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MEASURING VFM

0 votes
When I worked the real world of budgets was entirely different from the relatively "easy life" Parrish Councils enjoy ie its bottom up rather than top down.  The one thing that should not change is getting VFM for project spend.. However it seems to me that a culture exists of "whatever it costs" rather ensuring VFM.  Apart from any form of project management the one big omission for me is the lack of any  measurement in the form of KPIs

How should (and how do)  PCs deliver VFM and does anyone use KPIs?
asked by (1.5k points)

3 Answers

0 votes
If you have worked the "real world" of financial and budget management you are probably one of the very few parish councillors that has relevant and appropriate experience in a world that appears to be dominated by the well intentioned (I'll be generous) but ill equipped.

Just take all of your personal experience and introduce it to the PC.

From experience, I would suggest you might receive resentment, resistance and reluctance to adopt procedures that are alien to the dinosaurs that have "always done it this way" but you have to fight through that with simple logic and demonstrable example.

I joined a PC in the June of year 1 and by Jan of year 2 had provided the YTD cost of grounds maintenance plus anticipated costs to end FY - figures that NOT A SINGLE COUNCILLOR had previously any knowledge of!  I then wrote, presented and validated a outsourcing contract which "should" have reduced the annual costs by 50% and generated income from capital asset sales.

Of course it didn't work out that way because the clerk and the chair let the contract in a secret meeting (which I gate crashed) and in violation of the delegated authority from the PC since the contractor did NOT satisfy the minimum requirements for award of contract.

It then took several years before the capital assets were sold having devalued in the shed during the inactivity, the contract which originally specified 3 football pitches was amended by the PC to uplift to 3 football pitches - at an additional cost even though 3 were already specified.

I'd resigned by this time and sat back watching the comedy unfold.

During the process of demanding answers to questions relating to costs for grounds maintenance which had previously been absolutely refused by the clerk (who, incidentally, was being paid to cut the football pitches ) that clerk - of 20+ years employment - claimed to be "intimidated" by the questioning and "resigned" threatening an industrial tribunal (sound familiar to anyone?)  The threat of industrial tribunal mysteriously evaporated when countered with the realisation that a fraud investigation would be initiated....  The chair + 1 councillor also resigned.
The moral of the story - bring your own experience to the table, in a professional and competent PC others will recognise the addition of skills they may not have and welcome the improvement.

In reality, what will probably happen is that dyed in the wool "we've always done it like that", resistant to change dinosaurs will see you as a threat to their existence and rally against you.
answered by (3.7k points)
Lets be honest if you are a lady I could kiss you. Its drives me nuts trying to even broach certain subjects .  Recently I pointed out that a certain Cllrs wife was being  paid £55ph for some Youth work. The Chairman has just E mailed me instructing to refrain from sending any more malicious comment to Cllrs . Still for the next few months I will be keeping the Ombudsman and Auditor busy (for all the good it will do)
I suggested a four year cycle to tie in with the elections and that we review all expenditure under VFM
We were told VFM was the Clerks responsibility as it was in her contract but they wouldn’t  release the extract from her contract that mentioned it

As I’ve mentioned before I had to use the FOI to establish that each time a child had a two hour session at the youth club it cost £18 and the purpose built building was only open 4 hours per week
That’s just the tip of the iceberg
For open spaces:  I'm not and you can't - I really doubt you'd want to actually
There is usually a REASON why people make it difficult to broach certain subjects - they KNOW they will not stand up to scrutiny.
0 votes
VFM is important, as it's public money we're spending, but can't always be measured. Robust tendering processes will ensure that the lowest viable provider is appointed, although it's not unusual to have a "How Much?" moment when opening tenders. There are real challenges in selecting from a limited pool of suppliers, especially when doing nothing isn't an option. It's easy to find a cheap supplier of 12mm brass widgets in China, but there aren't many Chinese contractors capable of cutting the grass in Cleethorpes.

The area where I think more could be done is regular retendering of service contracts. I've finally been allowed to retender a grass contract this year that was previously untouchable (friend of the former chairman!) and I've halved the cost. Over the duration of the old contract, a five-figure sum wasted. I've also made significant savings by changing insurer and using a broker for energy contracts.

Unless I'm missing something, KPI's are of limited value in local councils, as much of what we do is quality of life focused, which often lacks that tangible measurable element.
answered by (30.6k points)
We do everything in house with no idea of the cost and we are a very large PC
I had a complaint lodged against me for suggesting we should consider outsourcing before taking on more staff or if a staff member left as it was claimed I was affecting staff morale
We’ve become an organisation to employ staff not an organisation to serve the community
That's a very old-fashioned approach which must have presented challenges during the pandemic. I'm not totally committed to outsourcing and have been looking at engaging handypersons to perform routine maintenance tasks in a couple of my parishes, but there are some jobs that are best left to a professional contractor who does nothing else week in, week out.
0 votes
Interestingly, I am just looking at a contract where the contractor only wants to be required to hit 50% of their targets. As far as I can see, the targets are immeasurable anyway. When I pushed for more accountability I was told other Councils were happy with it.
answered by (1.2k points)

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