Category Archives: Social Trust+Capital+Community Cohesion
Civitas Press Release
<!– /**/ –>
Reforming Public Services? You thought that New Labour started that in 1997? Quite. You’re right but they failed to deliver because there were too many meaningless targets and too much micro-management which continues to-date.
Hence, the need to re-reform public services. But how?
Irrespective of what the centre says, first, there has to be political will from the leader of the Council and the Chief Executive to  thoroughly clean up the political governance and service delivery governance  separate wood from the trees  retain ‘change champions’ empowering them in the front-line to ‘break rules’ in-line with my tuppence-worth [below] think of and implement service changes to that reduce duplication, unnecessary bureaucratic effort, simplify and streamline delivery, save time and money  similarly identify areas of fraud and incisively deal with them including reforming procedures removing silo-mentality, sharing information within and external partners.  carry out root and branch reform of the entire culture without fear or favour.
As mentioned above my view is to start with the root & branch reform of the entire culture of the organisation.
Establish a TQ Culture Total Quality Culture where the Cultural implications of providing such a service to the customers of any Local Authority service provider are that it essentially involves the whole organisation, every department, every activity, every single person at every level. For such an organisation to be truly effective, each part of it must work properly together, recognising that every activity affects, and in turn is affected by, others.
The purpose and importance of policies and procedures is to translate the Government Legislation, Initiatives, Agendas, and directives (through LA’s Strategies) into processes by which those could be delivered consistently, reliably, cost-effectively and within time. Such delivery mechanisms would in their own turn introduce a way of monitoring performance and to clearly identify (through the audit trail) where something went wrong, why and how best to address the failing so as not to repeat the same mistake again. Thus introducing such a (motivated) culture to the first step change into continuous improvement cycle.
I have numerous policy, service, procedural and processes innovations. All my innovations have been self-motivated business critical ideas delivering value-for-money or realisable efficiency gains. It is my Dharma, my true inherent nature, to find the most efficient and effective ways to serve – to cut through bureaucracy and wasted effort and to go beyond expectations in delighting the customers. That is the only way to repeat the business. True to that Dharma – my work ethics have always been: “I’ll conduct my life’s work on the basis that the question is not if the opportunities of improvement exist but how they will be taken.”
Hence, I consider myself also a Change Champion, Equality & Diversity Champion (including Older Peoples’ Services Champion), an Innovator, Public Service Improver, value-for-money & efficiency champion, and a Social Entrepreneur.
Although Sir Peter Gershon Efficiency Review insisted that efficiencies are achieved through:
- Maintaining the same level of service while reducing the resources needed or using fewer staff;
- Delivering additional outputs via enhanced quality or quantity of service for the same resource; or
- Remodelling service provision to enable better outcomes.
However, it identifies unacceptable activities as efficiency gains including:
- Re-labelling of activity viz reclassifying inspection as advice;
- Cuts that result in poorer service for the public;
- Transferring costs from one area to another without net reduction or
- Increasing fees and charges to the public.
It identified cashable & non-cashable efficiency gains by workstreams viz:
- Procurement efficiency gains realisable via greater economies of scale;
- Corporate Services – includes Finance, HR, ICT, Procurement, Legal Services, Facilities Management, Travel Services, Security Services, Marketing & Communications etc.
- Productive Time – increasing productivity of front line staff whilst increasing input by reducing absenteeism.
- Transactions – combining activities to deliver efficient services.
Whilst these all are applicable to any local authority, there is nothing new about the common-sense business critical activities that any business, private or public, worth its salt ought to be conducting to survive let alone succeed.
The latest biggest piece of Housing Legislation in a decade has become an act impacting further on the LA front-line staff who will have to take on greater role in regulating private sector housing. There are seven parts to the Housing Act – the first five cover private housing, part six deals with public sector issues & part seven with supplementary matters.
The culture therefore ought to identify, deal with and prevent future fraud both internal as well as external.
Given the culture change I have mentioned above, the devolved budgets, accountability and empowerment to decide and deal with public needs will inevitably create a culture that thrives on learning as the keep earning good will from the service users. Such a valued and an innovative culture will in time be able to do away with expensive and unnecessary consultants, greatly reducing their budgets. But what does such a culture appear like?
Cabinet Office Research [1997-1999] confirms that local govt’s impressive track record of finding efficiencies is solely due to the innovative nature of the front-line staff who are in the best place to innovate as they know the systems inside out. The New Labour never got around to devolving controlling from the centre to know how to enable and empower the front-line services to do what they are employed to do.
My tupennys worth:
- Change – besides being unpredictable is essentially inevitable. The greatest personal skill needed for this decade will be manage radical change in order to survive as an organisation. The chaos theory emphasises that in order to lead this change one will actually need to break rules rather than keep them. Public service industry that essentially belongs to the public, there will inevitably be constant change; indefinitely.
- Thus a need for a collective organisational vision which may originate as abstract set of hopes and wishes evolving into something that makes sense for the organisation and its culture. The evidence that the vision has taken root is when people can sum it up in an anecdote or a story and begin to identify with it and live it – convincingly. To that end staff and other stakeholders must be given many opportunities to be involved in and contribute to this process over time.
- Both, political and managerial leader’s ability to make a difference by exercising control has been replaced by the need for negotiation, influence and networking. To be direct, powerful and effective in shaking up the local authority strategically they will need to empower others to act and grow in support of the vision both leaders and followers find worthy.
- This, to some extent, eases the way for the LA leadership to assist staff, averse to change, work with change that they are afraid of. Local government being a staff-rich activity must recognise the salience of staff in the reality of any change. To ignore it would be disastrous. Staff who will not go along with the change will mean no change. People are more important than structures and systems. Leaders must passionately believe in the direction and purpose of change. However, it requires that staff who are going to make that change own the change themselves.
- In order to facilitate this, the leaders need to cut across and move some of the activities outside the established pyramid hierarchies and involve change champions from across the organisation ensuring that staff freely choose the direction of change as their own preservation and survival.
- In order to work with staff’s own motivation as the main driver for change means finding out in detail what that motivation is. This process is essentially collaborative. Leading staff means being willing, able and self-disciplined to listen actively to what staff have to say and having infinite patience to communicate successfully and being able to make oneself understood.
- Hence the key skills a leader will need to lead staff through change are: (1) able to motivate their staff (2) in order to motivate their staff they have to listen to what their staff’s special motivation might be and (3) in order to be able to use that information on their motivation they need to be able to communicate with staff clearly.
- And finally, a leader must recognise that there are staff, in all organisations, wishing to change for some time who are highly self-motivated, talented and innovative bursting with ideas, energy and enthusiasm to excel but have been stopped by senior colleagues or by other barriers. The crucial managerial task is to seek out such gifted gems and to dismantle barriers to performance and productivity and channel talent into avenues that will directly contribute to the achievement of the organisational goals. This is crucial for any local authority in achieving its twin initiatives – Corporate Health MoT & deliver Valuing Diversity Policy.
My answers to MK Citizen published today.
1. Do you believe a cut in spending on public services in Milton Keynes will be necessary after the election?
- Whether cuts are ‘necessary’ is debatable but cuts are inevitable, imminent and indefinite because whichever party and/or groups are fortunate enough to form an effective coalition with the ‘lingering Labour’ or ‘tolerated trespassers’ in No.10 will have the first task of grasping the nettle that has deliberately been left by Labour for obvious selfish electoral reasons. If Gordon Brown says that he is acting in the best interest of GB PLC you should and must believe him unconditionally.
- The inevitable decision has been stayed after the election only because public sector presents the largest and most sensitive cost management anathema. Why then, you might ask, is public cost control more challenging than managing private sector costs?
- [i] Payroll: Once on the roll its difficult to get them off like some dodgy MPs. Latent costs are always much larger than the headline salaries. With no business-critical imperatives, abhorrent ‘people’ decisions tend to be deferred as long as possible as is the case in hand. Pay, performance and productivity ratios are incomparable to the private sector. The hidden or latent costs of public sector are much worse because long-term pension, retirement and health-care benefits are not accounted for in government accounts. If honestly accounted for, these would add up to 40% extra to the actual annual cost of a state employee and an extra 50% plus of GDP to national government debt. No private business can or would be expected to conduct business in this way. More than 20% of our country’s workers [client-voters] are working for the state with a strong interest in self-survival.
- [ii] Procurement or buying services: The state is a gigantic buyer of hospital catering, rubbish collection, prescription drugs, IT contracts, roads and infrastructure, military hardware etc. Notwithstanding the fact the state is zero-credit-risk to suppliers, and therefore enjoying the maximum buying clout to elicit cost-effectiveness, the mammoth failures such as £12bn defunct NHS IT Database are due to pernicious and pervasive incompetencies both in central and local governments. I can expand on this but brevity is of essence to put the message across without fear or favour.
- [iii] Structural costs viz pensions & healthcare are almost impossible to control. State pensions devised after the second world war were calculated to pay out for about two years after retirement! Retired pensioners now survive over 20 years after the retirement age. The crunch-point is that even if pension cost per head had been held constant, the government contribution per head would have arisen manifold and would continue upwards until state pensions are ‘reformed’ – by raising retirement age, reducing payments, or increasing contributions during the lifetime. The government has been in purdah over this issue. Sheer neglect, incompetency and ineptitude. [This is one of the reasons why some well-managed immigration of professionals is essential to ensure adequate NI contributions to sustain the older retired generation in the UK whatever the BNP states. If BNP wish to sustain the pensions at £150 pw, they’ll need twice the number of contributing immigrants.]. Healthcare is the other costly monolith because the state is the provider of good, accessible and, at most times, reliable national health service on demand free to all British citizens irrespective of the ability to pay. But it lacks two drivers of efficiency and innovation viz profit-motive and competition. So the government devised internal-markets by way of targets [some meaningless] and league tables in hospitals and schools. But the pseudo-markets created fraudulent outcomes as too many ‘managers’ managed to measures rather than deliver the best ‘holistic’ services befitting the local health economy. Whilst in private sector customers can switch custom the public consumers of such monopolies are captive and have such choice and can vote only once every 4 or 5 years. Performance date is often non-existent, late, inconsistent, unreliable or full of government spin. Thus managing public sector cost is particularly petrifying but one must not give up. I haven’t. What we need is strong, honest, competent, professional, credible and exemplary leaders both as politicians and public sector managers because:
- Public service industry that essentially belongs to the public, there will inevitably be constant change; indefinitely. People are far more complex than money & machinery. As well as being a key ingredient to the success of any project, the human side of management is a discipline that offers life long learning opportunities. This is my forté. One ignores this truism at one’s own peril.
- Hence any leader worth the salt must establish a culture where: the staff are able to challenge the business-as-usual and innovate; devolved budgets to front-line establish proper and measurable accountability; continuous improvement is facilitated; open feedback and ability to act upon ideas is valued; exemplariness is valued especially from leaders down to workforce.
2. What is your policy on housing development in the city?
- Deputy Prime Minister’s Community Plan intended to address Health, Economic, Social, Environmental, Educational, Employment inequalities & deprivation via Decent Housing & Quality of Life in Thriving Sustainable Communities (what I had achieved in Agar Grove Estate, London NW1 albeit in a small way some 17 years ago) is sufficient evidence that such common sense business critical ideas neither die nor fade away. What is more significant is that these innovative social entrepreneurial ideas endured in self imposed, self-motivated experience when the only compulsion, as opposed to then ODPM’s & DCLG’s requirements, was that of the residents’ and the estate’s deprivation and need; Truly the customer-led service of all.
- Government’s role was to translate its manifesto pledges and its strategy into National, Regional & local level and deliver its Housing Policies via the Housing Departments of the LAs & RSLs in England & Wales as Decent Housing was seen as vital, critical & fundamental to healthy, educated, thriving and sustainable communities enjoying safety, quality of life, environmental, social & economic well-being. I have been there and delivered it some 20 years ago & have delivering through my suggestion to The Deputy PM (in my visionary paper on Community Cohesion 05/12/2004) about affordable and modular flexible life-time homes – now being built in The Oakgrove Millennium Community, Tattenhoe Park, Oxley Park, MK, and Basingstoke, Hampshire the national exemplar site for the supposedly affordable super-flexible homes for life which are extendable or internally convertible & adaptable as families’ needs grow. MK2031 Master Plan, in which I was a consultee, recommended these super-flexible homes for life being pioneered here – ‘hopefully’ meeting social inclusion, community cohesion & sustainable community agenda.
- Community Cohesion 05/12/2004 paper argues: Ethnic Pluralism & Social Cohesion indicates that (i) Immigration has not undermined national integrity (ii) Some immigrant groups have progressed well, others not (iii) Labour market integration has been unwisely downplayed (iv) Discrimination persists & thus affects social trust (v) High risk, alienated, left behind groups are the priority (vi) Building common glue is vital but so is the need to avoid overly prescriptive, threatening answers. Promoting solidarity depends on underlying equality in a three-way triangular relationship thus solidarity r equality s diversity. Thus building greater & more explicit cohesion across ethnic lines depends on (i) understanding recent history (ii) learning the lessons of how economic integration has worked abroad and (iii) systematically tackling settled disadvantage. In OU Hustings on 27 April 2005, I had identified the possibility of ‘home-grown bombers’: “The Deputy PM’s Community Plan has completely missed Community Cohesion as a critical issue within it. I am arguing that where there is no injustice, unfairness &/or inequality – there can be no strife, dissatisfaction, disappointment, disaffection, complaint or grievance. In order for Britain to effectively manage and address the internal risks of communal violence and (putting it bluntly) threats of terrorism from left behind groups, is to pay heed to my assertions in the third paragraph (last page) that Discrimination persists & thus affects social trust.”
- Both the innovations cited above utilised my excellent inter-personal & intra-personal skills in influencing, enthusing, persuading and negotiating with the District staff, senior officers and Councillors (including the then Chair of Housing Management Committee) thus presenting and selling my innovative ideas communicating them clearly both orally and in writing. It involved identifying their motivations and working with them as levers to facilitate cultural change thus addressing both staff management & dealing with performance issues effectively without fear or favour. A special well argued and presented reports including the SRB Bid to the DoE were prepared. These projects (including when I was acting up as an Area Manager) also utilised my staff management skills in addressing repeated poor performance incisively including taking disciplinary action, time management using management tools like Critical Path Analysis to keep track of projects plan as live documents including not only managing budgets effectively but actually delivering substantial savings to the Council as demonstrated above through innovative change management techniques.
- Nothing of this can be said to be remotely representative of what is being delivered by the Milton Keynes Council or the Government Quango or so-called delivery vehicle ‘The English Partnership’. Although this might appear as overly critical from what may appear to be a mere insignificant front-line foot-soldier serving in the ‘Best Council in the UK’ about the overly paid grandees both in The MKC & EP including the Government and its post-Blears-flipping fiasco the DCLG; the mere fact that ODPM’s Community Plan omitted the critical issue of community cohesion in its plan and 13 years later, after John Prescott flashed his Pledge Cards on every TV interview since, and most importantly, despite my innovative ideas were given life by Lord Roger’s architectural genius, the crucial element of ‘affordability‘ was thrown out with the wasted mortar. When young couples cannot afford a starter home, how can the nation have the chutzpah to expect them to progress in social mobility to the ‘flexible-homes-for-life’ sustaining an extended family of their own contributing to community cohesion?
- Furthermore, MKC & MKPC, & EP have failed to deliver the necessary new-built social housing for the Milton Keynes Citizens of reasonably long-term domicile than the recently settled immigrants including small number of asylum seekers which have been given undue priority in social housing according to the concerns expressed to me. So far as my own experience is concerned I know that to be the case since 1997. Having challenged Hazel Blears and her department about this social injustice, the Govt, only recently, via Alan Johnson, surreptitiously announced in the Evening Standard that they have amended their policy of social housing allocations. My experience still does not show that to be true. Only the MK Citizens can vouch whether they have been accorded equal information, access and, most importantly, treatment in social housing queue.
- Hence, my policy of housing in Milton Keynes is that sufficient resources should be allocated to built affordable starter homes with zero carbon emissions and side-by-side build sufficient mixed-occupancy social housing of the same standards in the owner-occupied areas; review the government legislation pertaining to the immigration, asylum seeking, access to housing, housing benefits, council tax benefits, welfare rights, pathways to other facilities, access to NHS addressing the inherent injustices. Prioritising access to social housing for those families living in Milton Keynes since 1967 and their families. Policy to house large immigrant families in private sector housing with exorbitant rents subject to massive housing benefit costs and other associated costs to the Council and thus necessitating urgent queue jumping in social housing in order to reduce HB costs must be addressed side-by-side with the review of all legislation since 2000 given that it is probable that all legislation passed since 2000 is ‘Null & Void’. See https://anantmvyas.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/news-all-uk-legislation-passed-since-2000-is-null-and-void/ . Side-by-side the MKC Housing allocation policy will need reviewing in line with first-in-first-served policy to address imbalances. It is only through equal ‘treatment’ in central government and local Govt services, that there can a semblance of ‘social justice’ and ‘social-trust’ established. It is only through these common glues that any beginning of cohesion could be expected let alone elicited and delivered. It has been a sheer wasted effort with the New Labour and the New-new Labour.
- No sooner I wrote about lack of social mobility 25/04/10, the BBC News this morning 26/04/10 validate my assertions: Social mobility in England lagging behind http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8639671.stm
- Finally, the Conservative legislation Right to Buy gave Council tenants the much needs social mobility but the legislation was badly thought through giving the greedy the unchallenged opportunity to exploit the system for lucrative gains in London especially in much salubrious areas like Hampstead where commercial companies were able to ‘buy’ multi-million pound properties for and from existing tenants some on life-time benefits with no realisable chance of buying their rented properties. The tenants were paid off and the property company rented the properties out, some times back to the Council to house their ‘homeless asylum seekers’ awaiting approval from the government’s ind [Immigration & Nationality Department], the approvals that took more than a few years to come. I have single-handedly stopped innumerable fraudulent claims and crimes against the Council and the public purse from fraudulent right to buy to applications for Council housing. Although after innumerable complaints from loyal citizens like me John Prescott woke up rather late to stop the RTB discount in London from max £38,000 to £16,000, the situation in other Councils is as it was when the legislation was passed. Hence, my approach to giving the long term Council tenants, maintaining their tenancies in a tenantable manner, paying unrebated rent and with no serious housing management problems, the much deserved lift in social mobility, would be give them the maximum discount on RTB but in the private or SRL sector thus vacating the much needed social housing resource. Those on benefits will get reduced discount going down to nil. Thus the RTB debacle has to be amended accordingly to provide incentive for the law-abiding and rent paying tenants. Although this measure would be akin to ‘closing the stable door after…’ – better late than never to free up much sought after social housing resource for those ‘needy’ rather than those ‘greedy’.
3. MK’s grid roads – expand them or scrap them?
Expand them retaining the original ‘master-plan’ comprising the best of housing development, landscape planning, free open spaces, parks, walkways, cycling routes etc. Milton Keynes has the best balance thus far. I would hate to see the development greed, haste and inconsistency ruin all that has been achieved since 1967.
4. What would be the first thing you would do if you gained power?
Power lies in the electoral will of the MK Citizens. Should I be fortunate enough to be elected, the first thing I’d do is to wholeheartedly, unequivocally and humbly thank all the electorate irrespective of how they cast their votes.
5. What is the policy which defines your party/campaign?
- Politics for the People
- Politics with Principles
- Politics without Parties
thamesvalleypoliceuk — 27 April 2010 — Thames Valley Police is appealing for witnesses after a serious sexual assault on a 14-year-old girl in Milton Keynes on Sunday night (25/4).
The incident happened at about 8pm as the victim was walking home from the park in Great Holm, along a track lined with trees, between Kensington Drive and Goodwood. The victim was held to the ground by three men while a fourth offender sexually assaulted her.
Jonathan Bartley of Ekklesia tackled David Cameron on inclusion of disabled children in mainstream education
David Cameron Incident [Wiki]
On April 27th 2010, as Conservative Party leader David Cameron made his way to a car after a General Election campaign event in South London he was confronted by Bartley, accompanied by his disabled son, Sam. Mr Bartley claimed Conservative manifesto plans encourage placement of disabled children in special needs education, rather than mainstream, and that this amounted to unfair exclusion of children like his son. Cameron, crouching to be level with Bartley and wheelchair-bound Sam, tried to more fully explain the policy and that it was under Labour he was having problems finding his son appropriate schooling, but was continually interrupted by an angry Bartley.
The Daily Telegraph and many other media outlets suggested this meeting was a politically motivated stunt by Bartley, a Liberal Democrat supporter and left-wing campaigner, at a time when the Liberal Democrat and Conservative Parties were close in opinion polls.
Bartley later described himself as a “floating voter” and denied he had planned the incident, claiming Conservative Party officials invited him to speak with Cameron, though he was “very, very angry” about Conservative special needs education proposals.
I support mixed tenure housing to give much needed social experience and mobility to those renting from the social landlords. Similarly I support mixed and inclusive education for all where the mainstream eduction, in the opinion of the school governors, is unlikely to be adversely affected by such inclusion [although the need for special education depending upon the level of disability is unlikely to go away].
Britain’s most respected budgetary think tank has turned its slide rule over the spending and taxation proposals of each of the major parties. There are three vast black holes – one in each of the party’s proposals. All the parties have announced plans to return the economy to balance by 2015/2016. The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that 87 per cent of the Labour government’s plans for cuts in public spending or tax rises have not been revealed. It says that 82 per cent of the Tory plans are unexplained and 74.1 per cent of the Lib Dems. This is the bit of this election campaign that none of the major parties want to talk about.
Paying it back after being found out, legitimises this person to negotiate the outcome of the next government?
If you believe that then you’d believe that Leeches suck only vegetable sap.
Think. Vote judiciously.