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About the Council

About the Council

Barnet residents and taxpayers expect high quality, flexible and responsive public services for themselves, their families and their communities.

Our major challenges are to manage a shrinking public purse, prepare for significant growth, and raise resident satisfaction to reflect our improved services.

Over the past seven years, we have had to take out over £80.9 million from the council’s base budget and we need to continue at this rate to offset the reduction in central government funding.

But our partners also share this challenge and need to take tough decisions too.

In our community leadership role we want all the Local Strategic Partners (including the Police, NHS Barnet, Middlesex University, Barnet College and voluntary and community organisations) to move in the same direction of offering maximum value for money to residents and delivering improved outcomes for all.

The new Future Shape Programme Board formalises our relationship with partners and provides the platform for the ‘One Barnet’ approach to delivering efficient and effective public services.

We are clear that the council must enable public services to work together more effectively to provide efficient services which are better tailored to citizens’ needs. We cannot expect Barnet citizens in need of help to navigate their way around a multitude of different services.

How Barnet Council Performs
The Audit Commission judges us through our Comprehensive Area Assessment. In the first year of this assessment (2008-9), it found we were performing well in the way we manage performance and our use of resources such as finance, assets and staff. We scored three out of four in both areas.

As a council, we have maintained high resident satisfaction levels with nearly all our services. Crime is low and the fear of crime is reducing. Services where people need care and support are good. Educational attainment is high and improving, and children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities consistently perform well above the national average.

Our Corporate Plan
Delivering high quality public services in the borough is only possible through a partnership between Barnet citizens and the wider public sector. We want to sustain Barnet’s aspiration to be a city-suburb contributing to London’s resilience in this time of uncertain post-recession recovery, and to London’s prosperity when better economic conditions return. This means that access to public services must be easy and also that our citizens have a favourable experience of public services.

As a community leader, we accept that Barnet’s communities are not interested in who delivers their public services as long as they are of a high quality, effective and publicly accountable.

We believe Barnet Council should have minimal interference in peoples’ lives and respect the private autonomy of our citizens. Our ideal is a society where Barnet residents are doing things for themselves, where they define the problems they face and play a role in tackling them such as through the ‘Right to Control’ programme we are embarking on.

Making safeguarding a responsibility for all of us remains a key commitment for the council, which we have taken forward with our partners through the Safeguarding Board.

We have a responsibility to make the most of the taxpayers money we are given. So we are committed to making sure residents know they are receiving:

1) Better services with less money
Our Future Shape programme is about delivering better outcomes more effectively, efficiently, equitably and economically to leave our customers feeling more satisfied.

2) Sharing opportunities and sharing responsibilities
As a council, we know that many of our residents want to be part of both sharing opportunities and sharing responsibilities. We recognise that some residents need more support than others and we will work with these residents to put them on the pathway to success.

3) Successful London suburb
As a successful London suburb, we will continue to enable the borough to grow sustainably by supporting prosperity whilst preserving and enhancing the physical environment. We will continue to support excellence in our schools and centres of learning. Working with the police and NHS Barnet, we will make sure Barnet remains a safe and healthy place to live, work and study.

A ‘One Barnet’ Approach
We have already acknowledged that Barnet residents deserve and expect high quality, efficient public services. As a council, we accept that we are not best placed to deliver everything. These services will be delivered more effectively, efficiently and with greater quality by our public sector partners but also in the private and third sector.

Through our community leadership role we have started to embark upon this journey of change. This Corporate Plan will form the basis of our 2011/2012 ‘One Barnet’ plan and the implementation of the new Sustainable Community Strategy. Some of our immediate joint challenges include:

Increasing citizen expectations:
We are acutely aware that residents’ expectations of services increase all the time and we must respond to that by ensuring our focus on delivering for the customer is absolute.

Impact of the recession:
The global recession is placing pressure on many of Barnet’s residents, communities and businesses. This requires an agile and flexible response built on a solid understanding of their needs and economic trends. We need to support residents and businesses to enable them to deal with changes they might face.

Anticipated reduction in public spending:
We are in no doubt that taxpayers will continue to expect excellent public services regardless of the tough financial pressures the public sector as a whole will face over the coming years. We will need to work ever more closely together in order to maximise the value to residents of public sector money and improved outcomes.

Barnet’s ecological footprint per capita (2004) is one of the highest in London. The main contributors are food (26 per cent) and housing (25 per cent). However we are also the third highest consumer of energy in the capital in 2004.

In 2007/08 we were the eighth highest recycling and composting London authority and the top composting authority.

Sustainable Community Strategy
Barnet’s Sustainable Community Strategy is the ‘umbrella strategy’ for all the plans and strategies of key partners in Barnet. Its role is to set out the long-term vision for the local area and outlines what we all need to do to enhance the quality of life in Barnet.

It is currently delivered through the Local Area Agreement (LAA). From 2011/12 our ‘One Barnet’ approach will help local strategic partners to jointly formulate an action plan to make this happen and deliver a range of services that put the community first.

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