adapt I grow I thrive: Southampton City Council’s plans to transform the council announced

Southampton City Council has set out its approach to delivering a transformation programme to address the challenges faced by the council and the city. The approach is set out in papers published today (8 July) for approval by Cabinet on 16 July


Drone image of marina with lots of boats and yachts in water, surrounded by buildings and blocks of flats, taken on a sunny but cloudy day.

The council has received an in-principle offer of Exceptional Financial Support from the Government to address the financial challenges reported in the February budget papers. While work has taken place to stabilise the council’s finances through the medium-term financial strategy, it must continue to adapt to operate effectively in an environment of increasing demand and real-term reductions in funding. A £40m budget gap must be bridged for the 2025/26 financial year onwards to ensure the council is a sustainable and financially stable organisation for years to come.

The in-principle offer of Exceptional Financial Support is subject to the council getting approval from the Government for a transformation and improvement plan which must be submitted to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in August.

The transformation programme will create a, more effective and efficient organisation, able to adapt to external factors outside its control whilst ensuring the focus remains on delivering positive outcomes for residents, businesses, and visitors, and helping people and the city to thrive. We are calling the transformation programme adapt | grow | thrive:

adapt… to achieve a sustainable financial position and succeed within a volatile world we will create a more effective and agile organisation focussed on outcomes for our residents.

grow... for longer-term success, we will work with our partners to achieve growth and prosperity for our region.

thrive... the work that we are doing with our partners will enable our residents and the city to thrive.  

Our transformation programme has begun and will span across three years. It will be delivered alongside an ambitious new City Plan. The programme aims to deliver nine key outcomes:

  • Set a balanced budget for 2025/26 without the need for Exceptional Financial Support;
  • Create an investment portfolio for the region and city to increase growth and productivity;
  • Financial support based on growth and devolution;
  • Support more resilient communities with improved housing, labour market participation, and pay;
  • Ensure children and young people are safe and valued;
  • Support residents, where possible, to live independent lives;
  • Focus on prevention, led by a public health approach;
  • Make the city a vibrant place;
  • Have an engaged council at the heart of city partnerships.

The current scope of the transformation programme involves 28 projects across all directorates, details of which will be published in July.

The high-level scope of the programme is organised across seven service-focussed portfolios which are:

  1. Adult Social Care & Health - Overall savings expectation of £14.65m:

Adults Social Care & Health programme of activity aims to deliver both its strategic vision to enable us all “to live in the place we call home, with the people and things we love, in communities where we look out for each other, doing the things that matter to us”, and a service that is sustainable.  

  1. Children’s Services - Overall savings expectation of £7.9m:

Children’s Services programme of activity aims to support the vision of ‘all children and young people in Southampton to get a good start in life, live safely, be healthy and happy and go on to have successful opportunities in adulthood’.  

  1. Schools & Special Educational Needs Disabilities (SEND) - Overall savings expectation of £1.8m:

Schools & Special Educational Needs (SEND) programme of activity is focussed on managing demand, streamlining processes and improving service delivery across schools and SEND through supporting early intervention and prevention, realignment of services to support educational attainment and improved attendance, and redesigning the school travel service.

  1. Resident Services - Overall savings expectation of £11.3m:

There are currently seven key programmes of activity within the Resident Services portfolio. These are focussed on delivering sustainable, cost-effective services across Resident Services through reviewing all options for future delivery models alongside shorter-term improvements to service delivery, including within Housing, Waste and Recycling, Regulatory and City Services. A summary of the aims and objectives of each programme is detailed below.

  1. Customer & Community - Overall savings expectation of £1m:

Customer & Community portfolio programme of activity is focussed on prevention and developing stronger working relationship with local communities, using data, insight and community participation, along with further integrating our customer facing activities through a centralised service centre hub.

  1. Enabling Excellence - Overall savings expectation of £4m:

Enabling Excellence programme of activity focusses on designing and delivering enabling services to support the council’s target operating model and to be more customer focused, efficient and effective. These will provide better data, forecasting and demand management to inform decision making whilst reducing unnecessary bureaucracy and delays.  

  1. Growth & Prosperity - Overall savings expectation of £2m:

Growth & Prosperity programme of activity focusses on delivering the creation of the sub-regional Growth & Prosperity strategy and a Growth & Prosperity plan for Southampton, which will act as blueprints for growth and greater economic resilience. This is alongside redesigning council services to have a more streamlined and growth orientated structure and organisational culture.  

Councillor Lorna Fielker, Leader of Southampton City Council commented: We are committed to delivering better outcomes and value for money for all residents and businesses in the city, and we will not get where we need to be by simply cutting services. While we need to reduce how much we spend, we are looking at truly transformational changes which will make our services more efficient and accessible for those in need.

“We need to constantly adapt to the changing world around us so the city can continue to grow and thrive, and our transformation plans will help us do this. There will be tough decisions to make along the way, but we will engage with residents and businesses throughout the process to make sure all voices are heard.

Alongside the transformation programme, the council will develop and adopt a new Southampton City Plan. The City Plan will articulate the key long-term goals for Southampton over the next 10 years in collaboration with key partners.

Find out more about the transformation plans.