Last Word

19.08.15

What’s needed to make public services more responsive to local needs?

Source: PSE - Aug/Sep 15

Nehal 1 edited edit editNehal Davison (pictured), senior researcher at the Institute for Government, discusses how a new project will explore what attempts have been made to integrate public service delivery at a local level and make it more responsive to citizen needs.

Everyone knows that public services are going to be hit hard over the next few years, with further budget cuts, an ageing population and rising demand. Changing demographics alone equates to around £400m of extra spending needed per year. 

But we also know that these challenges will be more easily met by joining up public services and targeting early intervention. The problem is that Whitehall funding, policy and commissioning processes can often create unhelpful, artificial divides between services on the ground. 

There have been repeated attempts to tackle this issue, either through devolving power and funding to local actors (for example, initiatives such as Total Place, Community Budgets and ‘Devo Manc’) or national programmes that integrate local spending around vulnerable groups (such as the Troubled Families Programme). 

Local partners are also pushing ahead with new approaches to service integration. The Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark partnership to tackle youth unemployment and the Tri-borough partnership in West London are just a couple of recent examples. 

However, while there is a huge diversity of models, there is only limited understanding of whether any of these actually drive improvements on the ground, and of how to share learning and best practice more widely. 

 33 smart cities 4

This is why the Institute for Government has launched a new project to capture citizen experiences of public services at a local level. As part of this work, we will explore: 

  • What attempts have been made to integrate public service delivery at a local level and make it more responsive to citizen needs?
  • What models and practices seem to have worked or be working well, from a citizen perspective?
  • What underpins these (examining factors relating to political, economic and cultural differences as well as organisational leadership, structures, incentives and skills)?
  • What are the best mechanisms for spreading these models and practices? 

Over the next year, we will focus on a few local areas where there are active efforts to devolve and integrate service provision within England – specifically looking at health and social care, and employment and skills. We will speak to service users, frontline professionals, managers and service leaders to dig into the organisational skills and ways of working that are needed to support further integration of services around user needs. 

We are telling people about this work now because we want to work with partners to explore how learning can be shared more widely, so that those trying out new approaches have a better understanding of what has been tried before and ways of building the conditions for success. 

(Lead image: Members of the Better Placed team, a partnership between Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark)

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Project leads Dr Jo Casebourne and Nehal Davison:

E: jo.casebourne@instituteforgovernment.org.uk

E: nehal.davison@instituteforgovernment.org.uk

W:www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/our-work/new-models-governance-and-public-services 

Nehal Davison’s blog was reproduced with the permission of the Institute for Government.

Comments

Tom Bricks   11/01/2016 at 12:16

Any research into local services has to include this groundbreaking work: http://locality.org.uk/resources/saving-money-local-default-replace-diseconomies-scale/ Are you going to be looking into some of the work that local authorities and other organisations are doing with Vanguard? This has the potential to revolutionize local services and local government - but it means changing the way you think.

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