Challenges & Opportunities
Some of the challenges for the Council include the following:
- Rising demand for the majority of our services. If we look at adult social care in particular we see that life expectancy at aged 65 is rising at a faster rate than disability free life expectancy, meaning that people are living for longer with ill health and disability. This will increase the numbers of frail older people with multiple and complex care needs. This rising demand is set against a backdrop of diminishing resources and increased and unrelenting expectation – from residents, customers and partners.
- The reduction in civic participation. We know that more people in Solihull disagree that they can influence local decisions than agree, although this is also an issue nationally.
- Partnership complexity. There is an imperative to look for system wide and integrated solutions to our challenges and this requires us to improve the way we navigate the complexity of partnerships – local, sub-regional, regional. We know we need to develop the agility, skills, insight and strategic partnerships in order to succeed in this complex environment.
- Our ability to plan for the long term when national policy setting is increasingly short term.
- Balancing the freedoms of self-sufficiency and devolution alongside the transfer of risk from central to local government.
Maximising those opportunities
Solihull's opportunity – Great lives to really use the benefits of its economic growth to improve the wellbeing of its citizens.
The Council's opportunity – Great services to position itself as the leader of place, people and public services in Solihull.
We know that securing economic growth is not an end in itself, but is a means of achieving wellbeing, inclusion and shared prosperity – it is two sides of the same coin, a metaphor and principle we have put at the heart of the Council’s strategic direction, policy making and leadership of the Borough, its people and public service reform. It is also a principle that Solihull has promoted through its constituent member role of the West Midlands Combined Authority. When people are better off, they tend to be healthier and have a greater sense of wellbeing, as they do if they feel part of a strong and connected community.
Our attention needs to be on both sides of the coin simultaneously and we have adopted these core principles* to help us maintain that attention:
- The creation of high quality jobs and employment opportunities through proactive shaping of the labour market.
- The prioritisation of connectivity i.e. transport, digital and social networks.
- Viewing the people of Solihull as an asset and investing in them. That means supporting them from the outset and at the transition points in their lives.
- Seeing the engagement of the people of Solihull as an opportunity to generate knowledge.
- Getting the economic development fundamentals right and making sure we maintain our focus on the small incremental changes / projects alongside our major flagship schemes like UK Central.
- Being prepared to innovate in a way that creates opportunities for shared leadership and ownership within the Council and with our partners.
The two sides of the same coin metaphor and the core principles are weaved into the Council’s strategic direction, focus and delivery which this Council Plan now moves on to.
*Based on the principles in “How international cities lead inclusive growth agendas” from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Jan 2017