Are you one of those who sighs or one of those who gets enraged when you hear of more cuts to local government budgets – normally dressed up under the 'efficiency savings' banner? And how long have you been delivering efficiency savings? Put your hand up if it is more than 20 years. We see a sea of hands going up.
But we also feel that it is remarkable that, whether you are at the 'sighing' end of the continuum or at the 'enraged' end, you knuckle down and deliver what you are required to deliver.
You know of the on-going commitment of the Government to reducing the UK budget deficit and balancing the books. The big question is how will local government cope with another round of budget cuts? Failing any success for the current groundswell of opinion in favour of mirroring the goodies being handed over to the Scottish Parliament, budgets being devolved to local councils (and who of you expect that to happen? Perhaps not too many hands going up to that one), this is where Touchstone Renard comes in.
As our experience can demonstrate, we love working with the commitment and passion that we find in local government. And we know that we have expertise that we think will be of interest to those in local government who want to protect their services and protect the quality of their services.
Our key areas of expertise are:
- Collaborative working / shared services: how councils can build effective and sustainable working partnerships with other councils or other organisations, to sharpen up service delivery, to achieve those elusive efficiency savings and provide service users – or should we say 'customers'.
- Lean / Six Sigma / EQFM: from the outside, looking specifically at the way that you do things to identify short cuts, unnecessary process (whilst understanding the need for involvement and accountability in the public sector) and better ways of doing things.
- Other efficiency reviews / mechanisms for eliminating waste.
- Options appraisal (colloquially 'make or buy' reviews).
- Delivery of change management programmes that last.
- Project management and project assurance.
- Training services in all the above to support the embedding of efficient ways of working.
We have other areas of expertise to offer you that may help you get specific issues dealt with more efficiently including: a few words of explanation to be added to the bullets below:
- Investigations – complaints, discipline and grievance cases.
- Equality and diversity approaches that fit the culture of your organisation.
- Health and safety advice and support.
- HR policies and support in implementing them.
- Interim HR services.
Local Authority, Local Government, Local Police Authority, And More, Case Studies Library
Our Local Government Team
Our knowledgeable and supportive professionals are able and delighted to work with you.
Our Local Government Team is headed by Richard Wood, our HR and Business Services Director. He has direct experience of working in local government for over thirty years involving working with councillors, top management teams, partner organisations, trade unions and employees at all levels.
At Touchstone Renard, Richard has been providing consultancy services to local councils for over 10 years. He understands how local government works and has direct experience of the challenges faced. He has developed strategies, policies and procedures and has been involved in bringing about major changes and reorganisations. His skills also include training, mentoring and facilitation.
Our team includes other former Heads of Service and a former Monitoring Officer and we can tailor our support to suit your needs. And we can draw on any of our many subject professionals who may not have direct local government experience but who can introduce that 'challenge' that could push you in the right direction.
We do not merely work in an advisory, arm's length capacity. If you wish, our people can work side by side with your councillors, your managers or other employees to bring about or support an initiative.
If you want to know more about what we have done take a look at some case studies. Just click on this link enter link to the Resources Library case studies section of the website.
Here is more about how we can support Local Authorities and their Partners
Investigations for Local Authority Monitoring Officers into Complaints and Allegations
In many cases it is not appropriate for Monitoring Officers or their colleagues to investigate complaints and allegations against their own authority's councillors or they do not have the time or available in-house resources.
Touchstone Renard's experienced Local Government investigators provide help and support on a flexible basis to meet the requirements of Monitoring Officers in a range of ways, including:
- Determining the scope of an investigation.
- Planning an investigation.
- Compiling the documentary evidence.
- Conducting interviews.
- Preparing reports.
- Assembling evidence.
- Attending hearings and other meetings.
Our investigators have carried out numerous independent investigations and are familiar with the Code of conduct and guidance previously issued by the Standards Board. They also appreciate the implications for investigations of the Localism Act. Each investigator is strong on integrity and personally ensures that investigations are carried out professionally and tactfully.
We know that local authorities have to work to tight deadlines and budgets and we will therefore provide support at very reasonable hourly fees or fixed rates.
Examples of Previous Cases
Please contact Richard Wood on the number or e-mail address shown below to discuss any help or support that you might need.
Touchstone Renard provides a range of services to help local authorities comply with the public body equality duty in the Equality Act 2010 and the specific equality duties to publish information to demonstrate compliance with the equality duty.
Many councils use the Equality Framework for Local Government's Five Areas of Performance to help focus their efforts to eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and to foster good relations between people from different groups protected under the Equality Act. We offer local authorities the benefit of our experience in using the Equality Framework, including working with the LGA's online 'effect' toolkit to help identify gaps in performance.
Based on our track record of delivering the equality and diversity needs of local authorities and the public sector generally, we provide support in:
- Interpreting equality legislation, including the general and specific duties arising out of the Equality Act 2010.
- Carrying out an equality and diversity gap analysis.
- Reviewing employment and service delivery policies and procedures to ensure that they are equality compliant.
- Using procurement procedures to support the achievement of the aims of the equality duty.
- Delivering equality schemes.
- Reviewing and updating equality action plans.
- The conduct of equality impact risk assessments.
- Developing and implementing equality monitoring arrangements.
- Establishing consultation arrangements with protected groups.
- Training employees and councillors in how they can help their council to improve equality performance.
Equality and Diversity Case Study
Please contact Richard Wood on the numbers or e-mail below for discussion, help and support, without obligation.
Support For Town Councils
Touchstone Renard is able to help Town Councils in a wide range of service areas where they may not necessarily have the in-house resources or time to address particular issues.
Our responsive, skilled professionals each have significant personal experience of working for local authorities and fully understand the demands of council business. As with all other services, we ensure that we keep time to a minimum while meeting our clients' deadlines. We can agree hourly rates or work to an agreed fixed fee.
We offer support by:
- Providing interim cover during staff absences or pending recruitment.
- Drafting and advising on many types of documentation.
- Carrying out general research and drafting reports, including reports to Council.
- Providing updates on relevant legislation.
- Helping with policies, procedures and management systems.
- Advising on town & country planning issues.
- Advising on matters affecting the conduct and interests of councillors.
- Helping with HR and employment matters, including recruitment, disciplinary issues, grievances, compromise agreements, pay and job evaluation and Investors in People.
- Advising and assisting with Equality and Diversity (the Equality Duty).
- Helping with facilities management.
- Organising and carrying out investigations and providing professional support in connection with complaints and disputes.
We can help local authorities, their individual departments or service areas achieve or maintain the Quality Management standard ISO 9001 certification or its equivalent. We can help you with some or all of the work required to suit your needs and budget.
An increasing number of local authorities are selecting this standard in preference to other, sector specific standards. Please click on the following links if you would like support or advice with regard to ISO 9001 or your QMS:
- If you have already achieved ISO 9001.
- If you have not yet achieved ISO 9001.
- If you would like to read our article about the relevance of ISO 9001.
Please contact Phil Austin on the numbers or e-mail below to discuss how we can help.
We can help local authorities, their individual departments or services achieve or maintain the Environmental Management standard ISO 14001.
Recent amendments to ISO 9001 have also helped to align the two standards to make it more straightforward to run the two systems together as an integrated system to avoid as much duplication as possible.
Please choose any of the following links if you would like support and advice with regard to ISO 14001 or your EMS, sustainability, Energy Management or Going Carbon Neutral:
Please contact Phil Austin for more information.
Advice and support for you, your partners or suppliers, including support with gap analysis, preparation of policies, implementation, exercises and training. In some cases, we may be able to provide training as reduced or no cost to the authority. Please contact us to discuss your requirements by contacting Richard Wood or Phil Austin on the numbers or e-mail below.
All local authorities are aware of their statutory duties with regard to the maintenance and provision of information. Some authorities may be considering the achievement of ISO 27001 or may wish to establish an equivalent information management system. Touchstone Renard can advise on this and lead authorities through the process up to implementation and beyond, so please contact Phil Austin on the numbers or e-mail below.
Other Management Standards
We can assist local authorities in designing and implementing a range of other management systems and standards, for example:
Please contact Phil Austin for help and advice on any Management Standard or equivalent management system
Our team of experts help improve the way that local authorities work to achieve maximum value with less by:
- Simplifying processes.
- Reducing waste.
- Minimising resources.
We have experienced professional who help local authorities achieve greater efficiency by:
- Improving processes.
- Creating consistency.
- Removing errors.
For Lean and Six Sigma, please contact Richard Wood for more information.
We have extensive experience in helping organisations determine the best way forward to meet the demands of service delivery while maintaining quality and optimising the use of resources. For local authorities, this can include various joint working models or the provision of shared services with other authorities or partner organisations.
Many authorities are considering whether to make increased use of their powers of charging or trading, with the possibility of setting up their own subsidiary companies to manage the delivery of certain services. Please contact Richard Wood or Phil Austin on the numbers or e-mail below for further discussion on how we can help.
Touchstone Renard has vast experience in advising on and training in Project Management and Assurance. Whatever your project management needs might be, we can tailor our services to suit you. Please contact Phil Austin on the numbers or e-mail below.
We have the experience to support local authorities on a flexible basis with any HR requirement. This might include working with a top team; working with staff at any other level; mentoring; facilitating; carrying out investigations; helping with strategies, policies and protocols; supporting change; providing hands-on help with job evaluations and job descriptions. Please contact Richard Wood on the numbers or e-mail below.
We provide advice and support with regard to the health and safety issues facing local authorities, including risk assessments and risk management. This is a particular area of concern to all major organisations, particularly following the legislation relating to Corporate Manslaughter, introduced in 2008. Please contact Richard Wood or Phil Austin on the numbers or e-mails below.
Touchstone Renard has a long track record of helping organisations in the public and private sectors to achieve and maintain Investors in People and Richard Wood has very recent local authority experience.
We can provide training to members, senior managers, staff at all levels, suppliers and partner organisations on a wide range of topics, including:
- Equality and Diversity.
- Business Continuity.
- Project management.
- Health and Safety issues.
- Fire Safety.
- Customer Care.
- Aggression at Work.
- Absence Management.
- Stress Management.
- Commercial Awareness.
Please contact Richard Wood for more information.
Touchstone Renard's Terms of Business
We understand how important it is to our local government to clients to make the best use of resources. Therefore, we aim to quote a fixed or capped fee wherever possible and to provide you with value for money. Wherever possible, we aim to help authorities make savings as a result of the services that we have provided.
In some cases, for example, training, we may be able to identify ways in which we can deliver the service at greatly reduced or no cost to the authority. Of course, this does not mean that we ever compromise on quality.
Please Contact Us
If you would like to have a friendly discussion about how we might be able to provide support to your authority, please contact Richard Wood without any obligation on your part on:
- T: +44 (0)203 954 2576 or
- M: 07713 621 005.
- M: +44(0)7785 616598.
If you would like to discuss management standards or project management in particular, please contact Phil Austin, without obligation on your part on:
- T: +44 (0)203 954 2576.
- M: 07768 366 744.