Introduction to why Achieving for Children went mutual
Being a small borough creates considerable challenges to commissioning services because of the limited economies of scale. However, by joining up with other local authorities they can increase their power to negotiate high quality contracts, while reducing management overheads and the administrative burden. Based on this idea, the boroughs of Richmond and Kingston have recently amalgamated their children’s services into a single shared organisation, called ‘Achieving for Children’ (AfC), which will offer greater capacity for safeguarding and looking after the most vulnerable children in both boroughs. Achieving for Children launched on 1 April 2014 as a social enterprise. The boroughs believe that the innovative community interest company model of AfC will provide better social, educational and community outcomes for children in Kingston and Richmond, building on the strengths of both boroughs. The model aims to offer an environment in which services can be developed more effectively and creatively outside of the rigid local government bureaucracy. It will also work in partnership with other local organisations delivering services for children and young people, such as health providers, voluntary organisations, local businesses, schools and colleges.
Impact of the mutual model and being a social enterprise
The councils state that the transitional cost of delivering Achieving for Children has been £1.5 million, with projected savings of £6 million over three years from the initial merging of services. They also predict wider efficiency benefits for the services once different opportunities and ways of working are fully developed and utilised by the new organisation.
Alongside being a public service mutual, Achieving for Children subscribes to the principles and values of social enterprise. They therefore aim to:
Put children and families at the heart of all it does;
Work in partnership and seek partnerships that maximise cost-effectiveness;
Increase the capacity and resilience of public services; and,
Provide a centre of excellence and innovation that will be available to other authorities and public service provider.