Case study

Northamptonshire Library and Information Service CIC

Library service commissioned to a third-party organisation

Northampton CIC logo
Northampton CIC logo

Description of the service provided

Northamptonshire Library and Information Service LibraryPlus moved into a Wellbeing Community Interest Company (CIC) which was registered in December 2015. It is majority owned by Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) (51%) and part owned by the NHS (Northamptonshire Health Foundation Trust) and the University of Northampton.

Currently the library strategy is under review and will align with the aims of the CIC which fits well with the existing service direction as libraries already deliver many benefits for wellbeing. Some of these include:

  • delivering universal children’s centre services, which include an information and advice service on topics such as childcare and employment
  • helping people to register for services and children’s activities such as Stories, Songs and Rhymes groups
  • supporting people with dementia and those caring for them
  • offering help for job seekers
  • providing help for those setting up businesses
  • running computer skills courses
  • supporting literacy development

The budget for a service of 36 branch and 2 mobile libraries for 2015/16 is approximately £4.6 million, of which the service must raise £806,000. It also raises grants for specific projects and pieces of work and operates some services on a traded basis.

The Community Interest Company

For many years, local authority commissioners and NHS commissioners and providers have worked together to develop and deliver services that jointly improve health and wellbeing. A number of new integrated services will be created to:

  • overcome the joint challenge that health and local authority services face with finite budgets and rising demand
  • design health and wellbeing services around the holistic needs of the individual and the population
  • ensure that physical and mental wellbeing should be seen as interdependent with each other, and with social wellbeing
  • overcome the historical organisational boundaries, which prevent an holistic approach to service design

The Wellbeing Community Interest Company will focus on delivering supportive services and actions to improve wellbeing outcomes. The primary purpose of the organisation is to help Northamptonshire residents to become healthier and feel better about themselves.

The CIC will bring together the best practice developed over many years in the NHS, the local authority and the University of Northampton. It will build on this to create a new, fit for purpose model in the Wellbeing Community Interest Company. The CIC will be commissioned by the council to deliver public health and wellbeing outcomes either by itself, in partnership or through a network of suppliers. The new community based organisation will offer a Wellness Service, covering a recognisable area similar to treatment services across the county.

It will build on existing successes, the brand recognition of the shareholding organisations, and will be competitive in the market to pursue well being goals for all residents.

Access to these services will be available through breeze-e (breeze-e Marketplace connects service users to a range of private, public, voluntary, health and social organisations to purchase such services).

The CIC is now registered and the transfer of Northamptonshire Library and Information Service staff will take place on 1 April 2016, subject to consultation.

Future plans

Service objectives for customers, culture and place (CCP)

The CIC Project Team has worked with service managers and staff to develop the business case for the transfer of services to the new CIC. Some work has been undertaken with the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at Northampton University to explore the opportunities for these services.

Collaborative working across CCP services

Northampton University has suggested four themes where some of the services could work together to enhance their wellbeing offer further. The themes are:

  • tackling social isolation and loneliness
  • reducing smoking
  • promoting healthy lives
  • enhancing mental wellbeing

During 2015/16, the CIC will develop proposals in response to these themes for consideration by the directorate management team.

Priorities for the library and information service within the CIC

The priorities for the library and information service within the CIC are:

  • financial sustainability and maximising income across the library service
  • wellbeing outcomes to develop, deliver and promote programmes of activities which tackle social isolation and loneliness, promote healthy lifestyles and enhance mental wellbeing
  • access and efficiency to develop smarter working practices across the library service based on NCC Next Generation initiative
  • operational development to deliver effective public digital access by seeking and implementing IT solutions to deliver refreshed self service, online payments, printing and to develop innovations such as the Library App
  • continuing to develop the service offer to include digital skills sessions, business innovation, Enterprise Hubs, job skills and the Get Involved volunteering hub
  • staff development, to develop the programme of staff training to ensure continued effective delivery across the range of Library Plus services, and which support the universal children’s centre offer in libraries
  • ensuring that staff are able to move into new more generic roles as advisors on health and wellbeing issues

Additional resources

Wellbeing Community Interest Company

Published 16 December 2015