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Fife Council Improvement Plan 2000 - 2003 (8th draft document)

I. Introduction
This document outlines the Council priorities and improvement targets covering the period 2000-2003.
It also details the action the Council will take to develop and build our capacity as an organisation.
The priorities and improvement targets are in line with the goals and targets set out in the 10 Year Fife Community Plan which has been agreed by all of the Fife partners.
This improvement plan will be reviewed annually with progress and revised targets reported through the Public Performance Report.
This process of review and target setting will apply across the Council with each Service undertaking annual review of progress against their own three-year Service Plan targets.
The Council is moving towards three year budgeting which will allow our financial resources to be better aligned with the Administration's priorities.
This is happening in a financial context for the period 2000-2003 that dictates a continuing need to make year on year revenue savings in order to fund policy priorities and to ensure adequate capital investment.
This plan provides the framework for planned and concerted actions to continue to reduce costs and re-prioritise spending.
The period ahead will be a challenging one but there are important opportunities for the Council, in conjunction with our community planning partners, to make significant improvements to the responsiveness and integration of public services in Fife over the coming years.
The ending of CCT provides us with an opportunity to move away from the client - contractor split and the focus on contracts and specifications toward integrated services focusing on outcomes.
More significantly, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) provides the potential to transform the way we do business and how we relate to our customers.
Securing and making the right investment in ICT is now a fundamental issue for the Council.
Finally and following from the McIntosh Commission the Council will also be looking at significant changes to its decision-making arrangements which again will prompt change to how our services are structured and organised.
All of this can only mean significant change in terms of how we work, what we concentrate on and invest in, whether we continue to do the things that we are currently doing and in the way that we are doing them.

II Council Priorities
The Council will play a full and leading role in delivering the Community Plan ensuring that its emphasis on Social inclusion, Sustainability and Best value applies across the planning of Council policies and services.
The Community Plan sets out the policy goals which the Council and its partners will work towards over the next 10 years.
Within the policy context of the Community Plan the priorities and improvements which the Council will address over the period 2000 - 2003 will focus on:
improving access to opportunity;
tackling Social Exclusion; and
improving the Quality and Safety of the Local Environment.
Within these priorities and in line with the Community Plan, the Council will give particular attention to the needs of children and young people and vulnerable elderly people.

To improve access to opportunity we will :
Improve the delivery of children's services by bringing together the planning and co-ordination of services.
Broaden parental choice in childcare and pre-school education by supporting a mixed economy of provision and by increasing places.
Improve education standards through setting targets for pupil attainment, supporting early years and developing citizenship and ICT skills.
Widen access to jobs and training by extending the number of opportunity centres and developing the Fife Direct Website.
Develop better services to people in Rural Fife to improve their access to opportunities and services.
Improve access to learning and development through implementation of the Lifelong Learning and Community Learning Strategies with our partners.

Improvement Targets and Measures
Increase in our success rate of the numbers leaving training who go into employment and other education : from 55% now to 65% in 2003.
Increase in number of people using community based education and training and guidance by 10% over the 3 year period.
Increase number of registered childcare places by 10% over 3 years.
Provide a nursery or playgroup place for all 3 year olds by August 2001.
Increase the number of S4 students achieving five or more standard grades to 81% by 2001. (75% in 1997/99)
Increase the number of S4 students achieving 3 or more Higher Grades at level A to C to 25% in 2001 (21% in 1997/99)
By 2001 achieve a pupil to computer ratio of 5:1 in Secondary Schools (currently 6.45:1) and 7:1 in Primary Schools (currently 23.3:1).
All primary schools to be networked by 2002.
By 2003 have a pupil council in all secondary schools and half of primary schools.
Increase in the proportion of children attaining literacy and numeracy standards and meet the following targets

Primary Schools
Target Measure Fife Council Average June 1999 Target Level of performance June 2001
Reading 65% 71%
Writing 52% 62%
Mathematics 69% 73%

Secondary Schools
Target Measure Fife Council Average June 1999 Target Level of performance June 2001
Reading 39% 53%
Writing 32% 47%
Mathematics 39% 53%
Establish 3 community learning plan pilot projects by March 2001 and a further 7 by March 2002.
Establish 7 youth forums by March 2002 and publish quality standards for youth work by March 2001.

To Tackle Social Exclusion we will:
Support the regeneration of Kirkcaldy, Levenmouth, Dunfermline and Central Fife.
Narrow the gap in performance of schools in different parts of Fife by investment in early years, the use of classroom assistants, and action to address attendance problems.
Introduce a Council-wide approach to concessions and benefit assessments as part of a wider anti-poverty strategy.
Review home care services to older people by examining targeting of concessions and charging and improving information on services and standards.
Reduce the involvement of young people in drug misuse by better co-ordination and resourcing of services.
Improve access to community and leisure facilities by those facing barriers to participation

Improvement Targets and Measures
Increase the amount of EU, lottery and Coalfields Regeneration Trust funds by 10% over the next three years against the figure of 2.9 million for the last programming period.
Ensure that there are clear strategy, partner and community participation mechanisms in place in each Regeneration Area by mid-2001.
Bring the poorest performing 20% of pupil (standard grade) closer to the average of all pupils by 2003.
Target 3000 homes for energy efficiency, 4000 homes for window replacement and 5000 homes for insulation measures by 2003.
Develop 5 Healthy Living Centres following application to the New Opportunities Fund by 2003.
Reduction in average number of half days absence per pupil from 38 in 1998-99 to 35 by 2001.
Reduction in temporary exclusions for school beyond the 90 half day per 100 pupils figure in 1999.
Reduce time taken to undertake OT assessments and to deliver equipment by ensuring that the percentage of urgent deliveries undertaken within three days rises from 85% to 95% and the percentage of standard deliveries made in 10 working days rises from 60% to 95% by 2003.
Reduce numbers of homeless clients in bed and breakfast by 25% in 2001.
Reduction in percentage of people under 25 reporting use of any illicit drug from the current figures of 32% of 13-15 year olds and 43% of 16-24 year olds.
Implement a Council-wide approach to concessions by mid-2001.
Achieve higher participation level in leisure facilities amongst targeted groups.
In 1999/2000, 140,000 visits were made by people within target groups holding premier and supercard Fifestyle cards.
We will increase this figure by 5% by April 2002.

To improve the quality and safety of the local environment we will:
Improve standards of grounds maintenance and develop faster responses to minor roads defects, lighting, graffiti and dumping.
Support local community safety action by supporting local forums and providing funding for local projects and initiatives.
Support CCTV schemes and the development of a Fife wide strategy.
Develop a waste management strategy which will help increase the amount of waste recycled.
Develop an environmental strategy covering air quality, biodiversity, green purchasing, energy efficiency and environmental education.

Improvement Targets and Measures
Improve performance on repairing street lights from 88% to 90% within 7 days by 2003.
Reduction in number of deaths and serious injuries from fire over the next three years, towards the five year target of a 20% reduction.
Increase in frequency of inspection of trading premises to timescale from baseline figures of 46%, 30% and 14% for high, medium and low risk premises respectively.
Ensure no increase in the 1999 road casualty total of 1012.
Reduce the number of all those killed or seriously injured on Fife roads by 15% by 2003.
Reduce the number of children killed or seriously injured on Fife roads by 12% by 2003.
Increase in amount of household waste recycled to Scottish average levels by 2002.
Increase the number of Blue Flag beaches from 3-5 by 2003.

III Developing the Council - The Key Drivers
These are the areas which will drive continuous improvement within the Council over the coming years.
As an organisation we do things well but we must do them better - we must constantly improve.
We must also develop capacity within the organisation to meet the significant challenges facing us and to achieve the policy goals of the Community Plan.

1. Customer Responsiveness
The Council needs to be as good as the best of the public and the private sectors.
Customer expectations are increasing year on year and we must continuously improve our responsiveness to them.
We therefore need more investment in information systems and training.
We must focus our organisation on the customer, streamline the processes we work through and empower staff to take decisions and to respond to customer need.
The second strand of our approach to customer responsiveness will be to ensure that decision-making in the Council is open, accountable and relevant to the people of Fife.
The Council fully embraces the agenda for a modern local government and it will streamline and decentralise its decision-making processes to increase its effectiveness and responsiveness as an organisation The priorities for the next three years are therefore to:
Continue to develop a "customer comes first" culture, increasing customer satisfaction with our services and our performance against customer care standards.
Develop by 2003 an improved customer management system to enable frontline staff to respond effectively to a greater range and complexity, of customer requests.
Develop service standards in all Council Services for the key elements of each Service. These standards will be reported to and be the subject of dialogue with the public.
Raise the levels of customer service by developing individuals through the Institute of Customer Service and in-house training and increasing the number of applications for the Excellence Awards Scheme.
Introduce by March 2001 streamlined arrangements for Council decision-making. Develop a revised scheme of delegation, which increases delegated decision-making and provides a consistent approach to decision-making within the Council.

2. Best Value
We owe it to our customers and the residents of Fife to ensure that the most efficient and effective use is made of the considerable resources at our disposal.
This is critical in maintaining the Council's credibility as a community leader and in receiving the support of our communities for locally provided services.
The priorities for the next three years for securing best value in the provision of our services are to:
Improve our performance in all services each year against our own Council and national indicators, publicly reporting our progress against improvement targets.
Undertake annually a series of strategic and service reviews which address the key best value questions and which ensure independence and objectivity as part of an open-minded approach.
Improve monitoring and review by establishing quarterly and better local reporting against targets and indicators
Widen the use of EFQM across Council services as an improvement tool and as the basis for involving staff in planning improvement.
Introduce better ways of listening to our customers and communities avoiding consultation fatigue and wasted effort.

3. Community Planning
One of the most important strengths of community planning is its potential to bring about best value across the public sector in Fife.
It also provides the framework to tackle the important national and local issues of sustainability and social inclusion that cut across all the main work areas of the Council and of its partners.
It is a priority of the Council to improve and integrate the planning and delivery of services with our partners and with the community.
The partnership framework set up in Fife will generate new opportunities to better integrate services around the needs of individuals, families and communities.
Realising the benefits means overcoming the barriers that exist within and between our organisations.
The priorities for the next three years are to:
Develop programmes that develop understanding between organisations such as; Common Purpose, secondments, a Kingdom Graduate Scheme and joint information and networking events.
Develop the "State of Fife" annual review process as part of widening involvement in community planning particularly at the local level. Develop a partnership infrastructure which co-ordinates and rationalises the variety of individual partnerships already in place.
Establish mechanisms for the sharing of information between partners, develop common data sets and produce a needs analysis system which gives the evidence base for identifying need, informing strategy and measuring progress.
Develop the joint commissioning of services and combining of resources to provide common services, which can be shared by partner agencies.

4. Information
We have a wealth of information in the Council, and in our partner organisations, but have no effective mechanisms in place to allow us to share efficiently.
We are weak in its analysis and consequently fail to add value to it to facilitate improved service delivery. Information has to be at the core of our decision making processes and especially to help us to make the right choices on allocating resources.
Improvements also need to be made to the methods by which we communicate with each other and the public.
We still buck the trend with our reliance on paper based approaches with their intrinsic inefficiencies which are an impediment to the move to a more "joined up" flexible organisation.
Action is required at both the Service and Council-wide levels to ensure better knowledge management and a more appropriate approach to communication.
The Council must also address how we will meet the Government's 2002 target that 25% of dealings with the Council should be capable of being done by the public electronically.
The priorities for the next three years are to:
Establish a clear Council Information Strategy to develop information and communication technologies in the Council and to help achieve Government targets for electronic transactions.
Make Council Intranet, Internet and electronic mail facilities available to and accessible by all Services by October 2001.
Put in place an information security policy.
Improve information systems and infrastructure within services in order to produce realistic and meaningful performance measures.
Renew or replace the existing telephone system by January 2002 and consider the implementation of joint public service access.
Integrate our research and information capacity both within the Council and our partner organisations.

5. Skills Development
The Council's employees are its most important resource.
Being responsive to our customers means supporting and investing in our employees.
They are two sides of the same coin.
If we want our employees to be responsive then equally we must be responsive to their needs.
Our focus on the customer requires us to deepen the commitment to decentralisation, encourage more responsiveness through enhanced delegation and utilise staff resources more flexibly. To do this we must invest in developing the appropriate skills and management approaches, which push forward the Council's agenda.
Improving the skills base of the workforce is not only critical from a quality service point of view but is also essential given the challenging agenda facing local government.
Over the duration of this Plan the priority is therefore to improve the skills of our employees, particularly in relation to the key drivers.
Specifically our priorities are:
Making the responsibility for the development and improved performance of employees a key management competence ensuring initially that all 1st and 2nd tier managers have completed the leadership development programme by March 2001.
Encouraging people's development through more energetic use of secondments, work shadowing, mentoring and workplace training, both within the Council and between our partner organisations.
Developing the skills of elected members and joint development of members and managers both within the Council and with its partners to improve shared understanding and trust.
Introduce a joint appraisal scheme starting with senior managers with a view to rolling it out across the Council in the future.
Ensure that every employee has a minimum of one employee development meeting per 12 month period.
Extend Investors in People to cover 50% of Council employees by 2003.

IV. Budget Strategy 2000 - 2003
The Administration intends to top slice 1 million from Revenue Budget for the next two years to address cross cutting priorities within Fife.
In addition, from 2001/2002 in order to invest in our infrastructure structural maintenance will transfer from capital at a rate of 1million a year.
Since local government reorganisation the Council has had to make savings of 55m.
Although the Scottish Executive is committed to making additional resources available to local government, the likelihood is that the Council will continue to operate against a background of financial constraint.
A clear strategy is needed to deal with this and to commence work now on reducing costs, targeting efficiency reviews and identifying areas for budget review. The budget strategy for the three-year period will therefore comprise:
i) Establishing short life budget review groups to investigate identified savings areas.
ii) Targeted efficiency and process reviews within services to be outlined within service plans alongside the progress of best value reviews.
iii) Issuing Services with planning totals for years two and three of the plan period, to ensure that service plans reflect the financial context.
iv) Investigating the full range of options for capital investment and maintenance including rationalising and sharing facilities.
It is also anticipated that Best Value reviews at strategic and service level will produce opportunities for re-configuring investment and will identify potential savings or income generation possibilities.


Appendix - Plan Framework
Timespan Plan and Strategies Review
10 Year Plan agreed by public, private and voluntary sector.
Annually through State of Fife report and Index
Key Strategies - generally 3 Year and Partnership Based
(those listed here are examples only) Shared Agenda Fife Community Fife
For Economic Lifelong Safety Housing
Development Learning Strategy Strategy
Strategy
3 Year Council Priorities and Performance Target
3 Year Individual Service Improvement Plan
Annual Review of Targets through Public Performance Report
Annual Review arising from EFQM assessment and review of Council Improvement Plan



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