Innovation Exchange

Delivering Better Outcomes Consultation (2014)

Introduction

Key activities

Benefits and impacts

Learning

Further Information

The Delivering Better Outcomes (DBO) Consultation in 2014 set out to engage members of the public, employees, partners and stakeholders on West Lothian Council’s proposals to address a £30 million budget gap that the council faced from public sector spending constraints. The aim was to achieve a full and effective consultation with members of the public, residents and staff on the proposed options for the council to deliver services in a better, more efficient way and balance its budget.

 

This was a complex and wide ranging consultation, with 39 proposals being presented for changes to council services and policies, and required a comprehensive media strategy and rigorous analysis to ensure it was handled correctly and transparently.

 

 

Theme: Service Transformation

west lothian council logo

A project team was formed from across the council to provide the relevant mix of disciplines, skills and knowledge.  This included representatives from the Corporate Management Team and employees who had expertise in; council governance and consultation standards, financial information and budgeting, communications (design, media relations and social media), data and statistical analysis.

 

The consultation document was developed by the project team with input from relevant colleagues and was reviewed by a focus grouped with a Citizen Led Inspector.

 

The consultation lasted six weeks and the council used multiple mediums to reach as many people as possible, including; online consultation; paper copies delivered to every home in West Lothian (via an edition of council’s Bulletin newspaper); a targeted plan for hard to reach members of the community, including face-to-face engagement; local press and social media to publicise the consultation; employee and trade union briefings to encourage participation from staff.

 

Expertise in equalities was also sought and the frontline services including the Advice Shop, Adult Basic Education (ABE) and the Community Regeneration team supported engagement with hard to reach groups and gathering consultation responses from the targeted communications plan.

 

Over the six week consultation period, a small analysis team worked to analyse over 40,000 individual comments that were received.  This included categorising and assigning comments to the appropriate Head of Service to consider and provide a response.

 

 

The information from the consultation was then used to set the council’s budget and has continued to inform ongoing modernisation of services.

The Delivering Better Outcomes Consultation 2014 was the largest and most effective consultation ever undertaken by West Lothian Council. Critically, the information gathered has supported changes to services, provision and ways of working and has helped achieve significant savings.

 

The consultation returned 3,467 separate responses from individuals (1,900), employees (1,422) and organisations and community groups (145) with over 40,000 individual comments.  The council was also successful in its aim of receiving the majority of responses through the most efficient method, the online survey response – 3017.

 

Targeted work to ensure a proportionately representative response achieved a strong return from across the different parts of the community and the protected equalities strands.

 

Importantly, the consultation responses yielded full and detailed responses that allowed the council to inform critical decisions about council services.  The response from members of the community, community groups, employees and stakeholders was the strongest, most detailed consultation collated by the council.

 

Following the consultation, the council has achieved savings in 2015/16 and 2016/17 with a combined total of over £24 million from the modernisation programme.

The DBO consultation was a critical part of forming the council’s budget strategy for the three years 2015/16 to 2017/18.  Information gathered was used to assist the council to set the 2015/16 budget, informed the Budget Strategy up to 2017/18 and continues to inform the ongoing programme of modernisation of council services.

 

Each of the 40,000 comments was analysed and council officers provided a response indicating how the suggestion would be used, including if and how it would influence council planning and budget setting.

 

Promoting the consultation through social media streams - Facebook and Twitter – as well as the council’s website meant that the majority of respondents chose to use the online consultation tool, which, from an analysis perspective, was much more effective and efficient.

 

The consultation exercise was well received by the public and residents of West Lothian and learning gained during the process will help inform approaches to any future consultations.

 

The consultation and the approach taken was recognised in the Council’s Customer Service Excellence (CSE) assessment as a strong and industry leading practice in consultation: “… lead in this area continues to be very strong, and this high quality approach to customer focussed consultation is clearly demonstrated in the Delivering Better Outcomes consultation documentation…”

The consultation addressed the challenging subject of budget reductions with 39 detailed proposals for changes to council services.

 

A significant media campaign was maintained throughout the six-week period to ensure public/staff awareness of the consultation, including extensive use of Facebook to highlight the consultation and capture feedback.

 

A specific plan to target hard to reach groups was deployed as part of the consultation process. The aim of this work was to target individuals who do not easily engage with mainstream services and who might not readily respond to a survey about council priorities. To ensure people were represented officers visited a range of locations including traveller sites and prepared braille and an easy read version of the consultation.

 

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:

 

Rebecca Kelly

Performance and Improvement Manager

01506 281891

Case study added to site: February 2017

Please report any errors using this web form

Improvement Service, working in partnership with

solace scotland logo