New changes being planned for the Council House are part of the Council’s ambitious plans to continue to improve customer service by providing more public services under one roof, making better use of Derby City Council’s flagship building. A report to Cabinet, published today, is due to be discussed at the next meeting on Wednesday 21st June.
Following an announcement in March, final negotiations are under way with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to enable them to co-locate parts of their two Derby Job Centre Plus offices into a redeveloped area on the ground floor of the Council House. The DWP will not only help to fund the alterations needed, but will also be paying rent and a service charge.
Part of the Council House is available to be used in this way because of the Council’s drive to have a modern, flexible and resilient workforce following the development of flexible working arrangements, enabling employees to work remotely, away from the Council House.
If the recommendations to Council Cabinet are approved, construction works are expected to start at the end of September and be completed in May 2018.
As part of the redevelopment, new facilities including a new accessible ground floor meeting room, improved security for citizens, visitors and employees in the Council House and new customer interview rooms will be created to further enhance customer experience.
The cost of redeveloping the ground floor area to co-locate the Derby Job Centre Plus offices will be funded by the DWP. The remaining cost of the project will be recouped by the Council through rental income.
Councillor Baggy Shanker, Cabinet Member for Finance and Governance says:
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions on the co-location of the Job Centre Plus offices into the Council House, which we believe to be a sensible and justifiable decision. This is a great opportunity for both organisations to work more closely together, to deliver efficiencies and provide a better service to the public in Derby and beyond. The way we are delivering this project means that any cost to the taxpayer will be recouped and used to fund the vital services that citizens rely on.”
To learn more about the development, a series of FAQs is available.
Why are we redeveloping the Ground Floor?
The redevelopment is part of the Council’s ambitious plans to optimise resources and improve customer service by providing more public services under one roof and making better use of Derby City Council’s flagship building. The project will also allow us to further develop our partnership links with other public services such as Job Centre Plus.
Other benefits to our citizens include improved security to make visits to the Council House safer, a new fully accessible meeting room and improved customer interview rooms for those who visit us to access services.
How can we justify spending this much money?
Although the budgeted cost of the project seems big, any cost to the Derby tax payer will be fully recouped through rental income as part of our partnership with DWP.
Why are we redeveloping the building so soon after the re-opening of the Council House in 2012?
Changes to financial pressures in local government means that we and other local authorities now have to think more commercially and efficiently. Bringing in a partner organisation like the DWP supports this vision and will also support our medium term financial planning (MTFP) to ensure we can continue to provide valued services to Derby citizens.
The Council has also been very successful in implementing flexible working arrangements meaning nearly 3,000 people are based at the Council House on a desk ratio of 5 desks to 10 people and in some cases on a 4:10 ratio, or even less. These desk ratios are some of the best in the country. This means that we are able to free-up floor space to provide much needed rental income.
Will customers still be able to visit the Council House and access services during the redevelopment?
Yes – the Council House will remain open for citizens to visit us for the duration of the project. There may be short periods where some services have fewer appointments available or desks to serve customers whilst we make improvements, but this information will be made available and we will endeavour to keep you updated.
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Will any services or teams be relocated to other Council Offices because of the redevelopment?
No – all teams and services based at the Council House will continue to provide services from the Council House, However, ratios of desks may reduce to support having a modern, flexible and resilient workforce. We currently operate on a ratio of 5 desks to 10 people, and in some cases less, some of the most efficient in the Country.
Will any jobs be lost as a result of this redevelopment?
Why the JCP?
Many of our customers who access public services such as housing benefits also receive support from the Job Centre, so by having them join us in the Council House it will be more convenient for customers choosing to access those services.
Also, like other public services and local authorities, the DWP are under pressure to save money and reduce their property portfolio. Therefore, it makes sense that as public service providers, we would partner with them and help them achieve efficiencies.