Conservative led Wiltshire Council has provided an update on its current corporate performance as it looks to achieve its mission and ten-year ambition, as set out in its Business Plan.
Wiltshire Council's Business Plan 2022 - 2032 was agreed at a meeting of Full Council in February. The plan states the council's aims and priorities in each area, but also includes metrics through which it can measure performance over time to ensure it is delivering them.
At its latest Cabinet meeting on 27 September, the council provided an update on its progress over the last few months, including what's going well, where improvements need to be made, and what risks have been identified.
Some of the information shared included that the unemployment rate equates to 2.1% in Wiltshire, which compares favourably with 2.6% across the South West and 3.8% in England as a whole. The waste produced by Wiltshire households in the first quarter of the current financial year is 1.6% lower than it was in the previous year. The rate of re-referrals into children's services is a good measure of how effective the work of the council is in this area, and the current rate is below what the council projected, which demonstrates positive progress.
In terms of supporting people in challenging situations to ensure they have a roof over their head, in March 2022 the council had 98 clients in temporary accommodation, which equates to 0.45% per 100,000 of the population. This compares favourably to other local authorities in the South West, with the regional average at 1.59% per 100,000.
The council's efforts to reduce carbon emissions and be carbon neutral continues, and each part of the organisation has been supporting the development of delivery plans to achieve this ambition. These plans and strategies are due to be published by the end of September and all services are positively engaged in this vital work.
Some of the organisation's challenges include the fact that the rates of referral into the council's adult care reablement service remain higher than seen in previous years and have not decreased. This demonstrates evidence of the continued demand on the local system and discharging people from the acute hospitals.
Demand for council housing is also high. Before the pandemic the council was receiving around 450 online applications a month, but the monthly average since has almost double at around 800. To help with this, the council has put a system in place that means anyone who would like to make an online application has access to a caseworker, who will provide individual tailored advice and determine if applying on the housing register is the right option for them. This ensures the number of applications is managed in a sensible way - benefitting both the resident and the council.
The use of public transport data shows that passenger numbers continue to grow slowly in Wiltshire. Earlier in the month the council showed its support for Catch the Bus Month, and has also just confirmed investment in new real-time passenger Information signs to be installed a bus stops throughout Wiltshire to improve the overall customer experience and to encourage more people to get back on the bus. It is also working on an on-demand service in the Pewsey Vale area, which will enable people to book a bus to wherever they want to go in the service area at a time to suit them.
The council is also keeping a close eye on the impact of the current cost of living challenges so that it can provide support in any way it is able to.
Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said:
We monitor data and information on a regular basis to ensure that the work we do is making a difference, and if for any reason it's not then we'll have a clear indication of what we need to do to put it right.
However, we never forget that behind each fact, stat and figure is a person, a family, and a community, and the decisions we make are done with their needs as the focus, so that we ultimately improve their lives and the services we provide for them.
This is undoubtedly a tough time for people, and this autumn and winter looks like it will be extremely challenging and uncertain due to the ongoing national picture. However, we believe the work we're doing to keep on track with our priorities will put us in good stead to be able to react quickly to any situation - something we've proven time and time again.
The full reports that were discussed at Cabinet can be found at Agenda for Cabinet on Tuesday 27 September 2022, 10.00 am | Wiltshire Council.