Support for Falkirk Council’s Change Programme

Based on existing partnership working, Falkirk Council and the Improvement Service forged a unique partnership arrangement - the first of its kind in Scotland - to recruit a Change Programme Manager to drive the creation and delivery of Falkirk Council’s ambitious change programme, Council of the Future.

Building on the Improvement Service’s change management consultancy offering to local authorities at that time, this joint venture enabled the Improvement Service to extend its offering to one of intensive, council-based change management consultancy support for Falkirk Council.

The role of Change Programme Manager was embedded within Falkirk Council and had access to a range of support from the Improvement Service.

This arrangement was successful and saw the creation and delivery of the first wave of Falkirk Council’s change programme and the realisation of c.£10m savings since 2017.

The post of Change Programme Manager has now been made permanent within the council.

The challenge

Over recent years, Falkirk Council has been dealing with a growing demand for services with less money and fewer resources available.

Alongside this is a greater focus on re-designing service delivery from a customer/community perspective, taking a digital by design approach, improving asset management and working differently with consistency across the council.

The council is also on a significant cultural journey to sustain the level of aspirational transformation required. There is a need to empower employees and instil a shared responsibility to face the challenges ahead.

In its 2015 best value report Audit Scotland made clear improvement recommendations, stating that the council needed to:

  • Increase the pace of change
  • Scale up its improvement activity
  • Focus on financial planning and sustainability
  • Improve workforce management.

To deliver on this, the council had put in place an approach for business transformation. However, it needed to be more ambitious with the scale and pace of change and, in 2016, the unique partnership arrangement with Improvement Service was established - the first of its kind in Scotland - to recruit a Change Programme Manager to do this.


The post of Change Programme Manager was created in 2016 on the premise that the role would be employed and supported by the Improvement Service and be embedded and principally located within Falkirk Council to deliver the transformational changes required.

The approach included a joint recruitment and selection process with the post being offered on either a temporary 18-month contract or as a secondment opportunity.

The Change Programme Manager was seconded from another Scottish local authority which also worked in partnership with the Improvement Service in a range of areas. In terms of remuneration, this was done via a re-charge process across all three organisations and worked well.

The role had an induction period with both Falkirk Council and the Improvement Service to get to know key colleagues who could contribute to both making the role a success and ultimately deliver on the business requirement of Falkirk Council.

Operationally, the role became was based full-time in Falkirk Council with regular catch up with colleagues from all areas in the Improvement Service. Due to the widespread nature of the change to be delivered across Falkirk Council, this was invaluable as the role had access to a range of specialisms within the Improvement Service including organisational development, community planning, change management, economic development, elected member development and more.

During the tenure of the role, Falkirk Council tapped into these resources with tangible examples of support covering chief officer financial seminars, customer journey mapping workshops and elected members development sessions.

Impact and results

The success of this joint venture resulted in Falkirk Council making the role of Change Programme Manager permanent in January 2018.

This has been a successful transition and the partnership with the Improvement Service continues to flourish.

With commitment from the senior management in Falkirk Council, the joint venture resulted in:

  • Establishment of structured engagement activities across from frontline employees to Corporate Management Team
  • Completion of the first employee engagement survey
  • Creation and approval of the Falkirk Council's Change Programme, Council of the Future, in September 2017
  • Establishment of the Council of the Future Governance framework, including involvement of elected members as part of the Council of the Future Board.
  • Cashable savings of c. £10m for Wave 1 of Council of the Future.

How is the approach being sustained?

The role of Change Programme Manager was recognised as a critical success factor in the delivery of Falkirk Council's change agenda.  The senior leadership team developed a funding model for the post to be permanently integrated into the organisational structure. The post is now supporting the council with Wave 2 of the Council of the Future change programme through the development of its five-year business plan launched in May 2019.

Lessons learned

The lessons learned from the partnership are positive and have strengthened the relationship between both organisations. Based on the successes realised, the model has since been replicated with other local authorities.

Next steps

Falkirk Council and the Improvement Service continue to work in partnership.