Chief Executive’s Office and City Solicitor 2023-24 budget proposals

This directorate is made up of core support services critical to ensuring the council is well-run, makes informed decisions, is transparent and open to scrutiny, attracts and retains the best staff and engages with residents and partners, locally, regionally and nationally.

The following provide support to the council and in some cases to partners and residents: Legal Services, Democratic Services, Communications, Policy and Intelligence, Transformation Unit, ICT, Digital and Customer Services, People and Talent, including Health and Safety and Learning and Development.

Financial pressures

Historically there has been a significant under-investment in the ‘corporate core’ of the council with reduced resources and priority being given to support services including human resources, democratic services, policy, insight performance, intelligence and transformation. There is now a recognition that robust corporate services are essential to enable delivery of the Council Plan and the Strategic Improvement Plan.

Without transformation and improvement, there is a risk that the council will not be able to deliver the improvement required to become a well-run council and will fail to deliver a consistent, high standard customer service.

The council will also review the terms and conditions that employees receive and identify options that can be delivered in the short, medium and long term, in conjunction with savings or efficiency opportunities.

Approach to savings and transformation

Collectively the services have identified savings options which are based on reductions in staff numbers, some are existing vacancies, or would be delivered through a review of the service, or by bringing together resource from around the council. As described above, any reduction in staffing in corporate services will have an impact, proportionate to the size of the existing team.

There are transformational options related to customer service, including customer feedback, parts of which are currently below standard in terms of response times and require transformation to change how we deliver access to council services e.g., through one-stop-shops, through the contact centre and online.

Legal Services - savings will largely derive from modernising and transforming the way legal services (internal and external) will be provided to the council. The focus will be on creating capacity and resilience within the in-house Legal Service resulting in the reduction of higher cost external legal services, including barristers and solicitors. Improved working with client departments will also reduce costs from failure demand such as unnecessary court proceedings and costs awards against the council. We will review and rationalise the involvement of legal services to reduce duplication of effort with other professional advisors, e.g., procurement and HR and adopt a risk-based approach to legal involvement so that finite resources are targeted to high risk/high value matters. Legal Services will look to generate additional external income from public sector partners. Savings will also be achieved by treating legal work on capital projects as capital rather than revenue. This is common in most authorities but not the practice in Liverpool City Council.

Democratic and Information Services - work will be modernised and rationalised to core democratic work and maximise the use of technology. This will reduce backlogs and costs. Members support services and costs will be reviewed with the new governance model.

Registrars Services - will undergo a service review with a view to modernisation and increasing income through joint work with asset management services, e.g., providing a greater and wider range of venues for ceremonies.

Communications - will look to reduce the amount of money spent with external agencies on both communication and marketing support. If the in-house team do not have the capacity to support a campaign, it would act as a commissioning agent ensuring best value for the council.