Great Yarmouth – modernising the joint venture model

Great Yarmouth has sought to reinvigorate and modernise its long-standing joint venture with Norse.  The joint venture was established in 2003 and delivers all the council’s environmental / ‘clean and green’ services including waste collection, street cleansing and grounds maintenance. This case study forms part of our productivity experts resource.

Efficiency and income generation

In 2018, the council embarked on a fundamental examination of its joint venture and used the support of an LGA Productivity Expert to identify areas for significant service improvement and savings within the joint venture.  The support has enabled an efficiency of at least £200,000 to be achieved in 2018/19 and laid the foundation for significant improvements in key areas such as improving recycling performance, greater consistency of grounds maintenance provision and a more efficient approach to waste collection.

The challenge

  • Improve the performance of the council’s key joint venture, with a number of underperforming services
  • Identify opportunities for financial savings within the joint venture
  • Significantly improve a number of key environmental outcomes e.g. recycling and street cleansing

The solution

  • Development of new detailed service specifications - specifications for street cleansing, waste collection, grounds maintenance and housing services were developed to determine clear service standards and clarity on services being delivered
  • New set of outcome based performance indicators – a more challenging set of performance targets with a wider range of performance indicators have been agreed, setting the foundation for improvements in services  e.g. value for money indicators for street cleansing, waste collection and more detailed operational indicators on recycling
  • New operational plans – a cost comparison exercise and financial analysis resulted in costed operational plans for each service.  This also identified opportunities for service innovations and areas for financial saving e.g. more flexible use of staffing to provide coverage on street cleansing and the introduction of a zoned approach to cleansing to differentiate service delivery.
  • Transfer back the Building Service – as a result of the review, the council has decided to in-source the Building Service from the joint venture.  The service undertakes repair and maintenance on council assets.  The in-sourcing is providing better value for money, a clear approach to prioritising maintenance and a more joined up approach.  This has generated a notable financial saving.

How is the new approach being sustained?

  • New operational plans – the development of the new operational plans has provided a structure for an annual discussion on opportunities for service innovations and areas for potential financial saving.
  • Stronger governance – the review resulted in strengthening the Joint Venture Liaison Board to ensure tighter management of service quality and service performance.  This provides more rigour for the future management of the joint venture.
  • Financial saving – a saving of at least £200,000 will be achieved in 2018/19.  Additional future efficiencies are also very likely, although difficult to precisely quantify at this point.  These are anticipated to be in the region of £50,000-£100,000 over the next two years through more efficient service delivery and reshaping services.
  • Income generation – additional income is anticipated to be generated through the bulky waste service in 2018/19 although, as this has yet to be formally agreed by the council, it is difficult to predict the actual level of additional income.

Lessons learned

  • The difficulty in identifying the specific cost of each service i.e. what is included, how overheads are apportioned.  Financial analysis of a complex joint venture has been very challenging.  Trying to understand the difference between ‘budget’ and the actual ‘cost’ of services has been difficult to decifer. This required the use of a dedicated management accountant to undertake a detailed analysis.
  • The complexity of developing clear specifications across a complex range of services and trying to balance ‘need’ with member expectations about services.  The challenge of trying to define either clear outcomes or requirements for services.  This required the review to run two member engagement sessions and explore with members what the actual service need was across the borough.

Contact

Neil Shaw
Strategic Director
Great Yarmouth Borough Council
Tel:  01493 846450
Mobile: 077666 90220
Email: neil.shaw@great-yarmouth.gov.uk
Twitter: @neilshaw99

LGA contact
Grace Abel
Advisor - Productivity 
Email: grace.abel@local.gov.uk
Tel: 07825 726273