A new network of ‘revolutionaries’ will reform communities’ public services, helping them to save money Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis announced today (22 March, 2013).
The government is establishing a groundbreaking multi-agency network to drive forward the transformation of public services at a local level.
Mr Lewis said the network would be the perfect facilitator to spread lessons learned from the hugely successful Community Budgets, where 4 pilot plans will deliver savings of hundreds of millions of pounds for taxpayers while developing services focusing on the needs of local people.
Speaking at a conference on the future of local government, the minister said the new network would jump-start transformation in public service and give local areas the freedom to drive ideas forward.
Urging all local partners to get on with rejuvenating their public services would help places to develop localist solutions to challenges, said the minister, and unlock further savings in the system through increased early intervention.
As part of the pledge to transform public services, Mr Lewis also announced a £9 million reward for councils that radically overhaul how they do business.
The Transformation Challenge Award will support councils who demonstrate their ability to remain at the cutting edge of service transformation, while delivering efficiency savings.
Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said:
“Every public service can be improved so that it works better and costs less. Many places are already finding new and innovative ways to deliver top notch services fit for the 21st century.
“To help achieve this I’m delighted to announce the creation of a new nationwide network, inspired by our Community Budget pilots, and our £9 million Transformation Challenge Award.
“This will put councils and other local agencies at the centre of a public service revolution, bringing every player together in a smarter way. Stripping out duplication, targeting service dependency and saving hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money.”
Public Service Transformation network
The new network set out in the Budget, will spread the innovation and share the learning from the whole-place Community Budget pilots, to support other places to deliver better services for local people for less money, and boost economic growth.
The network will be made up of people with experience and expertise from across government departments, councils and local agencies. Their aim will be to secure improved outcomes by co-designing better services for less.
Local areas will need to set out which service areas they want to reform, how they can succeed as the 4 pilots showed is necessary, and provide evidence that a range of local service partners are fully bought in. The government is committing £1.5 million and each area involved will also need to contribute towards the running of the network.
Councils and other local agencies have been invited to express their interest in being one of a number of areas who will work intensely with the network. These areas will be announced in the summer.
The 4 pioneering whole-place Community Budget pilots (Cheshire West, Essex, Greater Manchester, and in London the Tri-borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster) produced radical and concrete early intervention reforms while delivering integrated services better able to meet local peoples’ needs. Independent analysis by Ernst & Young for the Local Government Association suggests savings of £9.4 billion to £20.6 billion over 5 years if adopted across the country.
In their report of 13 March on whole-place Community Budgets, the National Audit Office said: “The ‘co-production’ approach between central government and local bodies in planning whole-place Community Budgets is a promising model for future policy design and delivery.”
Transformation Challenge Award
The Transformation Challenge Award will help 3 to 4 different groups of councils successfully develop and implement their shared service or efficiency arrangements and the set-up costs associated with them.
This could involve councils moving to a single operation across front line services and back offices, while maintaining their separate council identity and elected members. Such councils that can show what their estimated transitional costs and future savings will be may apply for awards up to as much as £2 million each.
The award will also support more limited shared arrangements such as linked IT systems; joint procurement and contracting arrangement. Up to 30 such proposals will be judged on their levels of innovation, transitional costs and prospective savings and awarded between £50,000 and £500,000.
Seven councils in receipt of Efficiency Support Grant have particular pressing needs for efficiency savings and for pursuing innovation and service reform. This award could be used as a top-up of up to 25% of their Efficiency Support Grant allocation. Councils must demonstrate innovation by going further and faster on reforms than already planned. Councils will be subject to light-touch monitoring at regular intervals throughout the year to ensure progress is being made.