The Deal Conference

The Deal Conference

Donna Hall at the Deal Conference

Donna Hall, chief executive of Wigan Council, speaking about The Deal.

Public servants from across the UK descended on Wigan yesterday (Wednesday 27th September) to find out more about The Deal.  

Wigan's revolutionary approach to public service reform has attracted the attention of organisations far and wide with some travelling miles to learn more.  

In 2010 Wigan Council was hit with the third worst budget cuts in the country. But despite that the council has remained positive and embraced the challenge. Apt then that the event was subtitled 'reasons to be cheerful'.  

Donna Hall, chief executive of Wigan Council and founder of The Deal said: "Public service reform and the local government cuts narrative needn't be all doom and gloom. When faced with these challenges we can either put our heads in the sand and hope they go away or tackle them head on. We've adopted the latter approach and it's working."  

Launched in 2013, The Deal makes a series of pledges in return for residents' help. One of those pledges is to keep Council Tax low if residents recycle more.  

Not only is this approach helping the council achieve its financial savings targets but it's also protecting frontline services like libraries and school crossing patrols. It's led to improvements elsewhere too with children's services achieving a 'Good' Ofsted rating, the adult reablement team being named the only 'Outstanding' service in the country and the number of 'Inadequate' care homes going down to zero. All while improving staff and resident satisfaction.  

The Deal has waved goodbye to red tape and bureaucracy and replaced it with trust.  

Donna Hall added: "This new relationship between citizen and state is one founded on trust and honesty. In order for it to work we recognise the need to give residents the permission and tools to build a better world for them, their family and their community, because ultimately they know what's best for them. Our role is to facilitate that process."  

Inundated with requests for information about how The Deal could help other organisations, Wigan Council decided to host a conference to share their experience and to help others.  

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham was among the speakers at the event. He was joined by Eamonn Boylan, chief executive of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, Trevor Holden, chief executive of Luton Council, Sara Todd, deputy chief executive of Manchester City Council, Katie Kelly, head of housing and communities at East Ayrshire Council and Dr Robin Pharoah, anthropologist.  

Local speakers included Tom Flower, head of community at Wigan Athletic Community Trust, Rachael Coulthard, executive headteacher for The Wings' CE Trust, members of Wigan Council's leadership team and local community group representatives.

The conference was treated to a musical performance by The Bright Days Silver Choir from Age UK Wigan Borough which has been supported by The Deal to help prevent loneliness among the elderly.

Posted on Thursday 28th September 2017

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