The view from…. Jo Williams FCCA, Business Support Manager for Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Social Services Directorate.
“There is unending pressure to find new ways of meeting the needs of citizens.”
I recently took up my current post – so I am still settling in and I am on a steep learning curve. This is my second post in the complex field of social services. My career has mostly been as an ACCA finance and business professional in Welsh local government.
My main responsibilities are to strengthen the business planning framework for the council’s social services directorate, while collaborating with health and neighbouring councils. My department comprises 30 staff who handle the financial and performance aspects of contracts with the private sector for adult care services. We bill service users and provide extensive information about the services in the community available to citizens and their families.
My challenges reflect those facing the council as a whole: reduced financial resources and increasing demand for services. This double whammy has particular impact on social services where the demographic trend for adult services means demand for services is ever increasing. Yet Welsh Government financial settlements have been on a downward spiral for some years – reflecting annual reductions from the Westminster coalition. The result is unending pressure to find new ways of meeting the needs of citizens.
Collaboration with Local Health Boards is a key response to these challenges and the Vale is in the forefront of this. The Welsh Government is supportive of joint working and the new Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act will require an increased emphasis on preventative services, based on the principles of early intervention and working with the citizen to give them more choice and control over their lives.
I particularly enjoy the diversity of my responsibilities, but also my role in budget monitoring on such a large scale. My job has a good balance between internal and external connections. One of my aims over the next few months is to visit 30 residential and nursing homes across the Vale to gain a better appreciation of their scale, scope and operating environment.
There has been considerable structural change in my division – Business Management and Innovation – over the past few years. A major restructure in the wider directorate has just ended, so we need to re-establish
communications with internal customers and ensure we engage effectively with new post-holders for the benefit of the service as a whole. There is also always the possibility of process improvement, better use of technology and elimination of duplication in all environments. That is no different at the Vale.
My advice to others would be to persevere to achieve goals and maintain your professional integrity. Look for the big picture and keep it in view as you play your role for the organisation.
My biggest professional achievement was my ACCA qualification in 1990. But gaining an MBA eight years later broadened my knowledge and understanding, particularly in strategic management. I’m very pleased to be involved within the profession, as an ACCA Public Sector Panel member since 2011 – I was chair in 2012. I was also on the ACCA South Wales Panel for ten years and president for two years.
Away from work I wind-down by walking, playing badminton and relaxing with friends and family in Wales and Ireland.