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St Helens Borough Strategy and Performance

We plan carefully to ensure we deliver efficient and effective services. We regularly monitor our performance and budgets to ensure success in meeting the needs of the community.

Our new Borough Strategy sets out our vision and priorities for St Helens Borough. It includes our bonds for a better borough; these describe what we as a council will do and make suggestions for what you as an individual can do to help build a better borough. It also sets out what success will look like.

We invited a small team of councillors and officers from the Local Government Association (LGA) and councils across the country to take an objective look at what we do, how we do it and our plans for the future. This is called a corporate peer challenge.

We also asked the review team to look at the culture within the organisation to ensure it will support the change needed.

These reviews are not compulsory but we wanted an independent view about how we’re doing as we strive to be an efficient, high-performing council delivering value-for-money services to improve the lives of our residents and customers.

The team of eight peers were with us in January and March 2019. They talked to staff, Elected Members, partners and customers to help build a better picture of the services we provide.

You can read their full assessment of how we’re doing in the Corporate Peer Challenge and the Cultural Review.

In summary

Positive feedback in the Peer Challenge highlights our:

• Good understanding of our communities and the challenges that they face
• Ability to maximise opportunities presented by location to bring about one of the fastest rates of job creation in the North
• Positive working relationship with partners, in particular in health, to create the award winning St Helens Cares integrated health and social care system
• Good track record in financial management, enjoying a healthy level of reserves
• Chief Executive seen as a force for change and fresh thinking
• Recognition of the need to change and modernise in order to meet future challenges.

The report sets out a number of areas where we could improve our current approach, including:

• Further work on modernising the council to make it fit for the future. Develop a clear operating model and put in place robust action plans to reset the culture and develop a ‘One Council’ approach as a road-map for change
• Review the council’s strategy for the refresh of the Council Plan ensuring it engages with members, officers, partners and residents – with a clear vision and priorities for the borough, and is widely owned and clearly understood
• Ensure improving Children’s Services remains a top corporate priority for the council
• Develop a more distributed leadership model empowering Strategic Directors and senior managers and enhance senior capacity at Assistant Chief Executive level to support the change programme
• Improve joint working between Elected Members and officers, developing a programme to improve better understanding of respective roles and reset the councils culture to drive positive change
• Develop a more strategic approach to the council’s budget and financial systems linked to corporate priorities
• Develop a more proactive external communications strategy, strengthen internal communications and invest in a comprehensive approach to organisational development.

Since the review the council has been working hard to tackle the issues raised, and has developed action plans outlining our next steps.

You can read our Corporate Peer Challenge action plan and our Cultural Review action plan.

On 17 March 2021, a team of independent local government experts conducted a two-hour remote session with members of our Cabinet and Executive Leadership Team.

It was part of an ongoing support session, following the recommendations that were made in the Local Government Association's (LGA) Corporate Peer Challenge in 2019, and most recently in an LGA Recovery and Renewal Panel in September last year.

The team praised the "significant improvements" that have now put us in a positive position to achieve higher levels of performance in future years.

The LGA summary report from the session highlighted the significant amount of progress achieved in the last 12 months, which has been all the more remarkable set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and the council's role in leading the local response to it.

During this period, the council also managed to recruit and establish an almost entirely new senior management team, with five out of six senior officers joining the council in the last 12 months.

In addition, the council also embraced the opportunity for a new LGA Recovery and Renewal Panel to be carried out in September 2020, which focuses on how the council intends to reset existing ways of working post-Covid.

Read the LGA remote peer support summary.

Read our Annual Report 2018/19 to find out what we have done well over the financial year and how we have spent our money.

We produce regular reports to monitor our budgets and performance to deliver efficient, effective and value for money services.

Read our performance report to find out what we did well in the last quarter and the areas we are continuing to improve. 

Each report is presented to the council's Cabinet meeting and also reviewed by Scrutiny.

View our council planning timetable to find out the dates of key meetings and decision-making processes.

For anyone looking for facts and figures about St Helens, visit our Local Information System.

There is information on a range of topics such as the St Helens population, the local economy, health and children and young people. Information is presented in charts, tables, reports and maps.