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Strategic plan


1. Purpose

Wilton Park will provide support across Her Majesty’s Government to fulfil British strategic foreign policy and related national objectives by providing a neutral, discreet and professional vehicle for convening opinion formers and policy makers from around the world. The goal is to address and resolve issues critical to the national security and prosperity of Britain and her allies, and as a consequence, project British values and influence.
Wilton Park is a revenue generating organisation – the ability to secure income from a wide variety of sources is a strong indicator of the continuation of its relevance and significance.

2. Prime objectives

2.1 Reinforcing the unique role of Britain in the World

In all work undertaken by Wilton Park, regardless of subject or intellectual and funding partnerships, we will project British expertise, influence, and values. In particular, we will focus on the creation of the new and enhanced bilateral relationships that are significant to the UK as it leaves the European Union. We will also focus on the international organisations in which the UK wishes to enhance its profile and influence (e.g. the UN, OSCE and NATO).

2.2 Convening power

Our 70 year history has given us a significant reputation globally as an effective partner serving the shared agendas of Britain and her friends and allies. We will enhance our long term influence and impact, and promote that reputation by seeking greater endorsement from intellectual and funding partners, opinion formers, and through foreign policy sector acknowledgements (such as institutional awards and rankings). These will be measured and reported through our Monitoring and Evaluation system.

2.3 Active neutrality

We will continue to build our ability to create, convene and chair events that demonstrate the power and effectiveness of striving for neutral dialogue. We will seek to make Wilton Park the international exemplar. We will project this quality as a key element in the British values of fairness, tolerance and openness.

2.4 Excellence in facilitation

We will increase the range of facilitation techniques that we can offer, and make Wilton Park a global leader in their application and skilful use. We will have the most creative and effective use of innovative facilitation techniques, including the appropriate use of technology. We will strengthen our metrics to boost monitoring and evaluation in this area.

2.5 Rapid response

We will develop the ability to adapt and rapidly deploy our skills to ensure that the FCO can maximise our use as an internal resource. We will enable the FCO to offer our services as a major contribution to cross-Whitehall activity. Our rapid response will be agile and offer bespoke approaches based on a simple standard toolkit of services.

2.6 Culture of continuous improvement

We will continue to invest in our people and to evolve our organisational model in response to changing demand profiles and to deliver greater effectiveness. This will be based on a comprehensive Learning and Development needs analysis to be conducted in 2016/17 and will be measured through our management accounts and Monitoring and Evaluation system.

2.7 Asset utilisation

We will continue to maximise the utilisation of Wiston House through rigorous schedule management of Wilton Park events and carefully selected commercial activity.

3. Wilton Park values

Wilton Park staff members have individual and collective responsibility for their conduct, probity, and integrity in delivering the purpose and mission of the Agency.

As individuals we will uphold and exhibit the values and behaviours of by the Civil Service Code:

  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Objectivity
  • Impartiality

At some time or other, all Wilton Park staff members have to represent the organisation; whether to the general public, to other colleagues in the Agency or the civil service, to sponsors and clients, or to our participants and guests. At all times, Wilton Park staff will be:

  • Confident about the parameters of our roles and our engagement with stakeholders, whether for events at Wiston House or reflecting the organisation to the world in the interests of the UK
  • Empowering to colleagues, seeking ways to help them deliver to the best of their ability
  • Professional and positive about their work and the work of colleagues, and about Wilton Park’s and Wiston House’s future

Wilton Park staff members will ensure that all their colleagues are treated with respect. They will not discriminate, harass or bully, and they will not fail to take action when they witness such acts between colleagues.

We operate in a workplace where the rights of individual are upheld by the responsibilities each of us has for one another. We assume the positive intent of all colleagues in their work and in their decisions, we are always constructive in our criticism, and we are positive in our work and engagement with others.

4. Overall performance targets by 2019/20

The Wilton Park (Stokes) Review of 2015/2016 called for a 20% increase in efficiency by 2020. It also suggested that an increase in revenue would enable it to forgo the core allocation from the FCO, and that Wilton Park should be the recipient of a significant ODA provision for its work.

As an executive agency, Wilton Park has to achieve a breakeven position every financial year, and is not permitted to accumulate reserve nor to pass funds from one year to the with the exception of a strict accruals mechanism. This means that Wilton Park must spend money as well as earn it. It also means that the delivery of financial objectives is tight as, apart from the core grant, there are no guaranteed funds available at the beginning of each year.

There have been three major exogenous changes since the Wilton Park Review was published:

  • The Referendum to leave the EU has created significant changes in the foreign policy environment of the UK;
  • There is a new government which has altered the machinery of government. In addition to the increasing role of cross-Whitehall units created in the SDSR, the emergence of the Departments for International Trade and Exiting the European Union creates a more complicated client landscape for Wilton Park;
  • Two cross-Whitehall initiatives – #GlobalBritain and a focus on a more deliberate cross-department focus on specific foreign policy projects – show distinct signs of being potentially important clients for Wilton Park that will demand the rapid and innovative delivery of our services.

5. Sources of funding and Income

In his response to the Wilton Park Review, the Minister said that it was important that it retained the ability to work in non-ODA fields. The core grant, which has been maintained at current levels by the FCO, enables Wilton Park to pursue non-ODA work in the early stages of development when we are still seeking funding.

For the first time, Wilton Park has received ODA funding totalling £1.4 m. This sum is made up of £500K as an Annual Programme Grant (APG) via HM Treasury; £700k from FCO ODA funding; and the remaining £200k to deliver ODA work is part of our core allocation from FCOs Communication Directorate (of £700k). This is being managed as an internal fund to which programme teams bid. The events must clearly be in line with FCO strategic priorities and reflect a uniquely foreign-policy based approach to development assistance. The use of the ODA funds must accord with OECD criteria using the same allocation process as DFID and the FCO.

Wilton Park has been increasingly successful at diversifying its funding base from other HMG sources, civil society, and overseas governments. Our challenge over the next 5 years is to:

  • Continue to maintain our ability to secure funds from these other sources at the current levels
  • Use our core allocation (non-ODA and ODA) to leverage funds from other sources both within the UK and overseas

The metrics for determining these two objectives will be agreed by the Board in Q4 of 2016-17, and will be reported upon annually.

The aim of the commercial use of our asset – the lease on Wiston House – has been to maximise revenue generation and to make a small surplus. This has enabled us to maintain a volume of activity sufficiently large to make the direct employment of dedicated and highly competent staff cost effective.

For the current five years, our approach will be different. By a more agile use of workforce planning and deployment (supported by “The Way We Work” [TW3] programme led by the Cabinet Office), we believe that we can increase the net financial contribution to our overall costs but with reduced impact on the building and reduced reliance on full time staff overtime, and casual staff hours. Progress on this aim will be reported upon annually to the Board.

6. Implementation

The implementation of all our objectives rests on three elements of human resources: strong governance and leadership; efficient and well-motivated staff; and succession planning for both.

6.1 Governance and Leadership

By mid-2017, the Wilton Park Board will have acquired in only 9 months a new chief executive, two new non-executive directors (out of three), and two new FCO senior staff (out of three) as directors. This is a significant change in governance after a very stable 3 year period. Our objective will be to sustain a greater degree of stability over the following three years, but to plan and implement a sequential turnover so we do not have such a large change in a short period of time again.

The Wilton Park Advisory Council now has a well-established replacement cycle. Collectively at their two meetings a year, and individually through contacts with key staff, they are providing important advice and guidance on our programmes of work. A respectable gender balance has been achieved but we need to work much harder over the strategic plan period in increasing BME participation.

The Framework document (the overarching “commissioning” document from the FCO to Wilton Park) is undergoing its triennial revision during 2016-17 and is currently waiting on feedback from the Legal Advisers and Treasury.

During 2016-17, the recommendations of the Stokes Review (2015-2016) on Wilton Park will be finally assessed to ensure that they have been incorporated appropriately in our business planning.

6.2 Efficient and well-motivated staff

Wilton Park has a very low rate of turnover of staff in all types of post. In recent years we have reinvigorated the injection of new ideas and people through the use of internships (up to 11 months) and Programme Development Assistants (2 years). We do not see this rate of turnover changing so we will continue with this vigorous programme. In 2019-20, we will review staff turnover again with a view to tacking action to ensure that there is sufficient space for succession planning.

We have a high level of staff engagement (as measured by the annual civil service survey) and we seek to reinforce this by generating other benefits through a more dynamic approach to agile working focused on improving work-life balance and wellbeing. But we are aware of the challenges of retaining these high levels as continued pay and benefits restraint means that staff see the value of their wages decrease significantly.

7. Objectives and targets

In these circumstances, the issues which form our overall performance measures by 2020 will need to be reviewed and appropriate metrics developed in the first year (2016-17) of this strategic plan. They will come into force in April 2017 for delivery by March 2020.

In the meantime, the following overall performance measures and the 2020 targets are as follows:

Actual 2015/16 Q2F 2016/17 Plan 2017/18 Plan 2018/19 Plan 2019/20 Target
Full Event Equivalent (FEE) 54.3 61.0 67.0 70.0
FEE held overseas 14 16 17 20
Non British participants 68% 69% 69% 70%
Female participants 34% 35% 36% 40%
Minimum number nations represented 150 150 150 150
Total number participants 2659 3100 3200 3300
Surplus / deficit +1% to -1% +1.5% +0.3% +0.6% +1%
Total gross income £5.1m £5.7m £6.1m £6.5m
Staff cost to net revenue ratio 73.8% 73.0% 74.0% 70-75%
Occupancy Wilton Park events 22.0% 27.0% 28.0% 35.0%
Occupancy Wiston House events 30.0% 25.0% 25.0% 25.0%
Occupancy total 52.0% 52.0% 53.0% 60.0%
Staff engagement 72% 70% 70% 70%
Investors in People accreditation Yes Yes Yes Awarded
M&E Measure 1 FCO 50% 52% 55% 75%
M&E Measure 1 Non-FCO 90% 90% 90% 90%
M&E Measure 2 62% 65% 68% 70%
M&E Measure 3 79% 75% 75% 75%
Footnote regarding Monitoring and Evaluation measures (M&E)
  • Funders saying convening power and access to global expert network is Wilton Park’s greatest strength
  • Participants marking overall impression as excellent
  • Efficiency of Wilton Park events excellent or good

Financial year 2016/17

Focal activities (contributing to prime objectives)

8.1 Key targets

Performance indicators:
  • Staff Engagement 70%
  • Sick Absence Rate 4%
  • Wiston House Occupancy 55%
  • Events target – 69 (FEE measure still to be established)
  • Overseas events target – 14 (FEE measure still to be established)
Overall financial targets:
  • Surplus 0.3%
  • Financial plan gross income target – £5.7m
  • Staff cost to net revenue ratio – 74%

9. Risk Management

The Wilton Park Operational Risk Register is the risk assessment and management tool for this strategic plan.

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