Southend on sea City council

Southend-on-Sea City Council and Red Flag Alert

Southend-on-Sea City Council is a local authority in Essex, England. Based in a resort City on the Thames Estuary, around 184,000 people call Southend-on-Sea their home, and the council is a unitary authority, devolved from the main county council of Essex. For its social care responsibilities, the Council has a slightly higher number of pensioners than the UK average and is dedicated to supporting all those children and adults that need help within the city. 

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Helping Southend-on-Sea City Council to support vulnerable people with essential monitoring and alerts.

The challenges

 The councils of today need financial data solutions just as much as private sector businesses. With the economic downturn impacting everyone, but particularly those who rely on the council for support, it is vital to ensure that the providers working alongside the councils are financially sound and are encouraged to be honest and transparent. 

 Southend-on-Sea City Council had recently launched a new Electronic Contract Management System to run alongside their tender portal, and all existing contracts needed migrating and onboarding onto the new platform. The new system was designed and developed to make sure that efficiency was at its heart, and that it was easy for the Contract Managers to use and understand.  

One key area of this new Electronic Contract Management System was supplier management and monitoring, an essential feature for Southend-on-Sea City Council. To keep up with the increasing demands of the social care sector and manage the risk to vulnerable people within the city, they needed a solution that could provide the necessary information, accurately and without delay. 

“We needed to know if there were any changes to our suppliers, particularly those that might be worrying in nature. That kind of visibility and transparency was very important to us,” said Jenny Newbery, Contract Management System Development and Training Officer. 

“The beauty of Red Flag Alert is that Contract Managers managing a contract in the Electronic Contract Management System, can log in and see exactly what’s happening and get an overall report straight away. However, all Contract Managers across the council can request a red flag report at any time which can be emailed. The reports for Red Flag are much more practical and thorough than the other ones we’ve used historically. I think they give people more context and useful information and enable Contract Managers to approach those difficult conversations with suppliers,” said Jenny.  

In an evolving situation and to keep up with the demands of a council, Red Flag Alert needed to be accessible, accurate and reactive – so that if anything changed with providers working alongside them, Jenny could instantly flag it to the Contract Manager in charge and get them to investigate further. 

The solutions 

Since the launch of our successful partnership, Southend-on-Sea City Council have utilised the value of Red Flag Alert's platform and integrated our software within their own Electronic Contract Management System. This process has provided seamless and instant visibility, whenever and wherever it is needed. 

During the Council's process of overseeing social care providers, in locations such as residential care facilities, fostering services, and support for individuals with learning disabilities, the integration of Red Flag Alert assumes a pivotal role. It provides the Southend-on-Sea team with the requisite tools to diligently monitor and evaluate the financial standing of each company, safeguarding the economic integrity of the Council but, more crucially, fortifying their commitment to the well-being and security of the vulnerable individuals entrusted to their care. 

“For us, Red Flag Alert encourages transparency. It opens the doors for conversations that need to happen and instantly highlights financial issues, so we know that a deep dive needs to be done.”

Furthermore, the integration of Red Flag Alert's software allows visibility of all business reports to every relevant Contract Manager. The council is currently monitoring around 428 providers, a huge number to keep track of with their own economic issues and difficulties. Not all providers are willing to be fully transparent with their financial situation, with a worry of losing the council contract. Access to our business reports and dashboards eliminates the need for manual investigation, time consuming processing and the dissemination of multiple reports and contracts. Instead, the information flows seamlessly through the system and ensures that nothing vital is missed. 

 “Red Flag Alert gives us the evidence we need to start those conversations. We rely on them to flag these things up. Through the software, we can see if they’ve had multiple CCJs, high staff turnover, they’ve not uploaded their accounts, or if they have two or three red flags. We'll know that some members of our Service Area Team need to go and have a conversation with that provider to protect the people we have placed with them.”

 To make the process even easier, the council has also seamlessly integrated the Red Flag Alert software into their managerial contract templates and views it as an integral component to their internal processes. Working with a software solution provider such as Red Flag Alert ensures a comprehensive awareness of all ongoing developments, and the extensive adoption by Southend-on-Sea City Council underscores the undeniable value it brings to their operations.

The future 

 The relationship between Red Flag Alert and Southend-on-Sea City Council has become so significant that there is now a designated tab within the Electronic Contract Management System, for Contract Managers to gather health ratings accompanied by a detailed financial history and insights. With this additional context, Contract Managers gain real-time visibility into the financial health of relevant businesses and can access key metrics such as their current score, status, turnover, and view any ongoing issues. This provides the council with the tools they need to execute informed decision-making.

 This partnership has resulted in a rise in efficiency and cost-effectiveness, as well as a more tailored approach to supplier management. Southend-on-Sea City Council selectively mark areas of concern, encompassing matters such as CCJs or the delayed upload of accounts, and monitors nearly 500 of their contract providers all from the safety and security of the Red Flag Alert platform.

 Notably setting the Red Flag Alert apart from its competitors, the platform enables a granular level of customisation that allows for in-depth analysis. Additionally, it empowers service areas by providing a detailed financial history as an explanation for specific supplier scores, thereby enhancing overall understanding and engagement.

 What Red Flag Alert has done for us is increase communication across our teams. It’s brought the necessity of monitoring the financial health of suppliers to people’s attention across the council. We can get much more detailed reports and give people a lot of information. It’s now very much on our team's radar, and an essential part of our processes, ” says Jenny.

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"We were looking for a partner to enhance the data offering to our clients, and Red Flag Alert have done just that.  They understood our business, our culture, and our aspirations for the future.  We’ve seen some great feedback on our integration, and we are very happy with both the solution and team at Red Flag Alert."

Rob Mead

Strategic Software Projects Director

"We use the search tool to identify businesses in specific geographic areas, with the right number of staff, the right turnover, and a low risk of non-payment. Now we have experienced the benefits of Red Flag Alert, we could not be without it."

Mark Bryan

NSL Telecoms

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Ben Robert-Shaw

Power Solutions UK