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New fund to boost public sector policy making

A new partnership has been launched to boost public sector policy-making skills and support professional development for policy makers.

The Institute for Government and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) are determined to improve Whitehall commissioning through their ‘Connecting Policy with Practice: People Powered Change’ initiative, launched on January 17.

BIG is investing up to £300m over the next five to ten years in projects supporting vulnerable people, including those with multiple and complex needs, isolated older people and NEETs.

BIG’s Dharmendra Kanani explained in a blog: “The work will explore and share insights with key policy makers about ‘what works’ in communities.

“It will give an opportunity for Whitehall civil servants to hear directly from beneficiary voices and from those delivering effective and innovative approaches in local communities.

“These will relate to our strategic investments in England, namely: Talent Match, focusing on young NEETs; our investment to support people with Multiple & Complex NeedsA Better Start which aims to deliver a change to improve the life chances of children aged 0-3; and our investments in Older People.

“For BIG, this is about tapping into a rich resource of Lottery funded projects, putting the [voluntary and community sector] in the driving seat and giving Whitehall the opportunity to come along for the journey, to see first-hand the incredible work being delivered in communities across the country so that this might shape policy development and future service provision. For the Institute this informs and accelerates work on their core programmes: a more effective Whitehall; better policy making; and new models of public services.”

Peter Thomas, director of Transforming Whitehall at the Institute for Government, said: “One of the things that is quite striking in the [civil service] reform plan is that it is probably the first time in England that leaders have been quite explicit about the fact that policy making doesn't work well enough.

“Policymakers want to learn these new skills, and rather than just lecturing them about open policymaking we want their experience to connect with reality.”

Kanani encouraged anyone interested to follow progress on Twitter using the #BIGIfG hashtag.

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