Improvement Panel and Council to collaborate to tackle improvement challenges
Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel today published a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
In the letter the Leader of the City Council and the Chair of the Independent Improvement Panel draw attention to the significant changes taking place in Birmingham including the appointment of a permanent Chief Executive who joins the Council in April; the establishment of the Children’s Trust also in April; all-out council elections in May, and the recent announcement that Birmingham will be the host city for the Commonwealth Games 2022.
In the light of these changes and context they say that the Council and the Panel intend to move towards a more collaborative approach. The letter informs the Secretary of State that they wish to explore reporting jointly in future to him and the city’s residents about the Council’s progress.
Commenting on the letter Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of the City Council, said:
"I've made it clear since becoming Leader of the Council that I want to work more closely with the Panel, so I welcome this move to a more collaborative approach. Progress has been made in a number of areas, but we recognise there is still much work to be done to ensure that the Council is well placed to deliver our improvement priorities.
"We will work with the Improvement Panel to prepare a progress report for publication in June. This will be an account of the Council’s achievements and successes since the Kerslake review. But it will also be an honest account of the position in relation to significant areas where the improvements are yet to be achieved and where we acknowledge that more needs to be done."
John Crabtree, Chair of the Independent Improvement Panel commented:
‘The Council has made it clear that it actively welcomes the challenge and constructive support provided by the Panel and intends to engage with it regularly and in an open and honest way. A clear commitment has also been made to grasp the substantial financial challenge facing the Council, to ensure that in future its revenue budget can be balanced without substantial draw down of the Council’s reserves, achieving financial sustainability as quickly as possible. In the light of these commitments the Panel looks forward to working with the Council in a collaborative way, providing both challenge and support as it continues its improvement journey.’
In December 2014 Lord Kerslake published The way forward: an independent review of the governance and organisational capabilities of
Birmingham City Council.
Alongside the recommendations in the Kerslake report relating to action Birmingham City Council should take, Lord Kerslake recommended that the Secretary of State appoint an Independent Improvement Panel to work with the Council to provide robust challenge and support.
The Improvement Panel was set up in January 2015. Its members are John Crabtree OBE (chair), Frances Done CBE (vice chair), Cllr Keith Wakefield OBE (former leader of Leeds City Council), and Steve Robinson (former chief executive of Cheshire West and Chester Council). Dave Hill CBE, children’s services commissioner for Birmingham, serves on the Panel as an ex officio member.