From community budget pilots to devolution deals
- 27 March 2015
- Posted by: Helen Nicol
- Category: Archive
Transformation Network director Robert Pollock reflects on what has been achieved to deliver better services for less over the past two years
Local leaders have told me that the Transformation Network is the first genuine attempt by central government to adopt a collaborative approach to policymaking with places and communities. Announced in March 2013, it was set up as a multi-agency partnership between local services and Whitehall departments which would spread innovation from the four whole place community budget pilots and other transformative approaches.
Those whole place pilots, having ended in November 2012, were predicted to deliver £800m of fiscal savings and better outcomes and had been commended by the National Audit Office, Public Account Committee and by MPs from a cross section of parties.
Since then the network of transformation places has expanded beyond the original 4 to 16 and we have used insight from whole place, the Commissioning Academy, What Works Centres and others to help more places realise their local transformation plans.
Impact in places
Initial, provisional, evaluation of some network places’ new service designs suggests over £1 billion of public value benefits, including more than £600 million of fiscal benefits, will be realised. Some of these integrated delivery models have the potential to be scaled up and replicated, including:
- West Cheshire:multi-agency ‘workzones’ in Ellesmere Port have got 400 people into work, saved £18.6 million and are set to be introduced across Warrington and Cheshire.
- Essex:an integrated approach to domestic violence has protected hundreds of victims and slashed inefficiency. A £5 million joint investment to make it county-wide will safeguard many more and deliver millions of pounds of social and fiscal benefits.
- Great Manchester:Intensive Community Orders for 650 repeat offenders aged 18-24 mean they are likely to get into sustained employment and less likely to reoffend. A £3.5 million investment over 18 months to scale up across Greater Manchester is expected to deliver significant savings for the NHS, Police and judicial system
- Surrey & Sussex:bringing together the six ‘blue light’ services has already saved lives, changing the way the three services are working together and responding to call-outs, and acts as a template for other areas who are interested in collaboration
- Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark:a multi-agency programme to prevent people furthest from the job market from becoming long-term unemployed which could provide a model for localised welfare.
- Stoke:a whole place ‘Co-operative Working’ programme predicted to save £36 million over four years with 130 key workers coordinating multi-agency interventions for 10,000 vulnerable households.
Impact on policy
This network of transformation places has provided evidence of better outcomes for local people and better value for the taxpayer – a feedback loop of innovation on the frontline back into Whitehall which is paying dividends.
The Department of Health and NHS were the first to emulate the whole place approach, establishing integrated care pioneers, vanguards and the Better Care Fund to find local solutions to the wicked problem of integrating health and social care for a growing elderly population.
At the same time the government has used various Budgets and Autumn Statements to support co-design and remove barriers to local integration. For example:
- allocating more than £4 billion in 2015/16 to drive transformation through a number of funds;
- establishing the Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing;
- encouraging Local Enterprise Partnerships to put forward local service reform proposals as part of Growth and City Deals, leading to four mental health and employment pilots;
- extending the Green Book to include cost benefit guidance for local partnerships;
- giving local authorities additional capital flexibilities to invest in the upfront cost of service transformation
- committing to give local services the same multi-year spending settlements as Whitehall in the next parliament; and
- devolution deals with Greater Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield that include public services as well as growth.
It is clear that over the last two years local service transformation has entered the mainstream of public policy – most notably through the work of the Service Transformation Challenge PanelBolder, Braver and Better: why we need local deals to save public services.
The government accepted the recommendations made in the Panel’s report ‘Bolder, Braver, Better: why we need local deals to save public services’, including commitments to:
- extend the principles of local service integration to a range of cohorts of people that have multiple and complex needs;
- improve the use of digital in the design and delivery of local services;
- improve the accessibility and flexibility of funding for transformation, including social finance;
- develop options to strengthen local accountability and join up inspection regimes; plus,
- £5 million to expand the capability of the Network to develop and evaluate local innovation and support the devolution of public services.
The work of the team
We will be publishing an annual report shortly, but for me some key highlights of the work done by the Network’s multi-agency team include:
- surpassing our 2014/15 business planambition to gather evidence of £250m fiscal benefits;
- a month of face-to-face and digital #BetterServices events which brought together ministers, civil servants, think tanks, academics and front-line practitioners to champion local service transformation and shape future policy
- developing practical tools to help others redesign and implement local transformation with Nesta, the Design Council and whole place pilots;
- establishing a virtual Evaluation Academy, with more than 100 people signed up already
- being evaluated ourselves by NatSen to identify what works and why; and,
- refreshing our website to make it easier for places and people to share what works and receiving up to 20,000 hit per month as a result.
We would not have got to where we have without the support of network places, local government and local service providers who have an equal stake in the outcomes.
Special praise should go to Westminster, Manchester, Essex and Cheshire West councils for providing leadership, and resources to make the network work, including office space, secondments, procurement and legal advice.
I would also like to thank partners including the New Local Government Network, Nesta, Behavioural Insights Team, RSA, New Economy, PWC and Kevin Brady; the Network team that have worked tirelessly to make change happen; colleagues in Treasury, Cabinet Office, Government Innovation Group, Cities and Local Growth Team; and last but not least colleagues across the Department for Communities & Local Government, in particular Patrick White and Helen Edwards for their leadership.
Over the next parliament public services will continue to face the twin pressures of declining funding and increasing demand. What we have learnt over the last two years is that investing in better local-national collaboration and involving communities early on in service redesign is the best way to maintain and improve outcomes, reduce demand and cost. We have also learnt that this approach is challenging, takes time, and requires a new kind of public sector leadership as well as investment in workforce capabilities.
So has it been worth it? Most definitely. Greater Manchester demonstrated that investing in and leading local reform can result in devolved public services. If done well devolution provides a significant opportunity to put local people, places and better outcomes at the heart of public service.