Work to transform council services will benefit local people and save money

Residents in Oxfordshire will soon feel the first benefits of transformational changes at the county council that will lead to better customer service at the same time as saving taxpayer money.

Later this year residents will be able to create their own accounts on the county council website as the ability for online self-service is increased. People will be able to track their transactions and requests.

For the first time there will also be the chance for people to hold web chats with the county council, which provides 80 per cent of local government services to the people of Oxfordshire.

Further in to the future community hubs will also be created using existing council buildings where residents can interact with council services in their own neighbourhoods. The council is conducting “place” reviews across all of the Oxfordshire localities that it serves to determine how best this work can be undertaken.

Meanwhile the council some time ago initiated a project to improve back office functions by simplifying, streamlining, automating and consolidating processes across the whole council. Part of this is the creation of a business intelligence function to analyse data and make smarter long term decisions across all services.

Fit for the future

The moves are all part of the “Fit for the Future” programme which is designed to transform council services and aims to save the council £15m from 2018/19. They key outcomes of the programme include:

  • Improved customer experience anytime, anywhere, simple and easy access for residents and businesses.

  • A One Council approach to service delivery that encourages collaborative working across the council and remove systems and processes that encourage silo working.

  • The delivery of high quality management information and business intelligence to support decision making.

  • Redesigning our services to ensure they are digital by design using cloud technologies and an integrated systems approach that focuses on our customers.

  • Enable savings of £15m to be delivered with a target date of 2018/19

The council has been able to set aside £6.9m of one-off money to unlock the savings of £15m which would bring permanent benefits to the council in future years.

Making a positive difference to people’s lives

Lorna Baxter, the council’s Director of Finance, said: “By fundamentally changing how we work, we can continue making a positive difference to people’s lives by protecting vulnerable people, delivering efficient services, growing the county’s economy, and enabling communities to thrive.

“Our customers will be able to access our services anytime, anywhere, and by any channel. That’s better for them, better for our staff and helps us save taxpayer money.

“Even more than ever we will be putting residents at the heart of everything we do, understanding the strengths and needs of each community so we can help them to help themselves through community-led services and initiatives

“We are working hard to create new ways to improve services at the same time as reducing costs. It is perfectly possible to do that. We have made good progress and there’s more progress to make in terms of making the county council fit for the future.”

Proposals were agreed by the county council's cabinet on April 24.