The finance department's efforts to provide the highest level of service, both to the council and to the public, have already been recognised. Having achieved ISO 9002 certification and a Charter Mark for revenue services three years ago, finance became an Investor in People in March.
Various services have been enhanced and objectives accomplished in 1997-98, including the radical improvement of customer facilities, the launch of a corporate, district-wide anti-poverty strategy, the development of IT, the redesign of documentation and the development of a training partnership with the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation.
In addition, a Financial Parish Liaison service has been introduced, concessionay fare schemes improved, a 15-year financial plan and five-year capital strategy have been drawn up and 'Managed Audit Status' achieved.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council was created in 1996 and inherited serious budget difficulties from its predecessors. It was unique in running four independent council tax, business rates and benefits systems side by side on different machines. A major programme of rationalisation began in April 1997.
The organisation of financial services reflects the council's strong culture of joint working between directorates. All support services are provided from the centre.
Finance services, working with the other directorates, has improved services, maximising the use of IT, and reduced budgets.
Knowsley MBC is committed to providing excellent service to the local community. The finance department makes a significant contribution to the achievement of the council's key aims, seeking to maximise the funding available and ensuring the best use of resources.
The department believes in continuous improvement and has a culture which promotes service, staff and business development and an approach which combines insight, innovation, influence and impact in its dealings with customers and other parties. The commitment to quality core services is augmented by an involvement in wider local, national and international initiatives.
Knowsley aims to be the best by working together, encouraging staff and others to inform, consult and participate in the development and improvement of services. Departmental work provides a framework in which the council can respond to the challenges it faces.
Lewisham is on a journey to modernise the borough and the council. It aims to transform its services and political and managerial structures over the next few years. The purpose is to improve, and go on improving, the quality of life and life chances of local people.
Lewisham Finance plays a central role in delivering the modernising agenda - through strong and effective management of the council's finances and financial systems and through the provision of an excellent revenues and benefits service.
Its recent history of achievement and innovative service development includes:
- How customer, client and stakeholder input has been central to decision making
- How technology and information systems have improved services
- Action and innovation on a wide range of financial fronts
- How accreditation against external quality systems underpins the department's approach
- The belief that a motivated and skilled team is a prerequisite to delivering effective, quality services.
Even by the standards the treasurers department has set in the past Ñ as a shortlisted finalist for this award in both of the two years since its inception Ñ 1998 has been an outstanding year. The highlights include:
- Reaccreditation as an Investor in People. The assessor said the department exceeded the standard by some distance in all areas
- The audit section gained ISO 9001 accreditation
- The pensions section was highly commended in the Charter Mark awards in its first attempt
- The unique Quality Improvement Scheme gained the national Labour Party award for 'using resources wisely and achieving best value'
- Shortlisted finalists for the prestigious Midlands Excellence Awards at the first attempt.
'Once again Hays Accountancy Personnel is delighted to be associated with LGC's Finance Team of the Year Awards. This year sees a substantial commitment from a wide range of finance departments seeking to ensure that they maintain their significant contribution to innovation, good practice and sound financial management within local government. As a result the participants have maintained and built upon the excellent standards set in the first two years.
The challenges to the judges have become greater each year as the numbers and quality of entries increase. We find within all the submissions examples of how finance departments are responding to the challenges facing them, playing a pivotal role in the development of strategic initiatives, adding both value and creativity to the management of public services. Customer feedback as measured in all the submissions indicate that colleagues in other departments and the public in general welcome the growing influence and involvement of the finance function in achieving not just financial equilibrium but also quality service delivery.
Hays Accountancy Personnel continues to work in partnership with councils to help ensure the continued supply of quality finance staff.
These awards give us the opportunity to congratulate all those involved in providing financial services within local government on their hard work, commitment and enthusiasm. We now celebrate with you the exceptional work produced by those shortlisted for the 'Finance Team of the Year'.
We feel privileged to be working with you and look forward to continuing our long and happy association. Thank you all for your support.'
Susan Smith, director, Hays Accountancy Personnel.