Speech

Community Budgets: progress toward national adoption

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Brandon Lewis' key note speech at the New Local Government Network (NLGN) event

The Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP

Thank you for inviting me to speak at your conference today. It is good to see so many people from across the country coming together to discuss the benefits of delivering transformative change and significant savings.

Today I want to focus on 3 key things. First, progress by the Whole Place Community Budget pilot areas. Second, the cross-government support for this agenda. And third, how service transformation is spreading across the country.

So to start with the pilot areas.

I know you are hearing from Essex and Manchester later today so I won’t dwell too much on details but it is important to say that the impact Essex, Greater Manchester, Cheshire West and Chester, and the London Tri-borough have made is crucial.

They have proved the concept that you can deliver better outcomes for less through better collaboration and integration.

The pilots identified £800 million worth of savings and are beginning to implement reforms. A few highlights are:

  • Greater Manchester is looking to reduce the number of people on out of work benefits by 22%, delivering annual savings of £500 million
  • Essex has already achieved a 60% success rate for high risk victims of domestic abuse that previously declined to engage with Essex police prior to service transformation
  • Tri-borough’s new model for health and social care for the 20% in the most acute need will help people manage their conditions more effectively, prevent hospital admissions and deliver net savings of £38 million by year 5
  • Cheshire West and Chester has launched an ‘integrated early support’ case management co-located team, made up of partners across police, probation, Job Centre Plus and strong links with health and the voluntary sector. This team is integrated under single line management and responsible for joining up support around individuals and families against a single assessment through sharing information, and a single co-ordinated delivery plan.

These are great examples of service transformation in action.

And across the pilot areas, regardless of which themes or issues they are tackling, some key lessons stand out.

  1. Put people or service users first – rather than focusing on organisations and structures; and involve your customers as participants not passive recipients.

  2. Integrate service delivery – in the back office and across the front line to secure better longer term outcomes for less.

  3. Manage demand on services – by reducing future dependency on services and channelling spending towards preventative interventions.

  4. Use evidence to drive change and tackle barriers in Whitehall – we are listening and have made changes.

Which leads into to my second theme; cross-government support for service transformation.

As you know, service reform is not something just for local government and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). It is a duty we all have as public servant whether in sitting behind a desk in Whitehall or working on the frontline.

Making this work requires public services nationally and locally to break down silos and work together.

And I can assure you that government is firmly and collectively behind the service transformation agenda.

Particularly my colleagues at the centre in the Cabinet Office and Treasury. And those in the key service departments are clear that to deliver their objectives requires us to work in new ways nationally and locally.

The Public Service Transformation Network, which I will talk more about in a moment, has officials from 7 government departments. And we continue to work with other departments in a bid to ensure we have representation from all key service departments.

The overview for this event today says “certainty is needed if community budgets are to be successfully implemented.” And “particular emphasis will be placed on how central government will provide coherent interdepartmental support for the budgets and the steps necessary for realising the savings joint budgeting promises.”

I am pleased you will be focusing on these issues today but there are a few points I’d like to make up front.

This is not just about money. Service transformation is about improving outcomes for people not just about saving a few pounds here and there.

Also, you do not need to wait for permission from Whitehall to do any of this. The Prime Minister has called on all local public service leaders to work together more effectively to ensure that their local services meet the needs of local people.

And where there are genuine barriers in Whitehall we will do what we can to unblock them.

A good example of this it that we kept hearing from local areas that data sharing was a big barrier.

Clearly information sharing has a vital role to play in transforming local public services. So we did something about it.

We are developing a centre of excellence for information sharing, which will help tackle the cultural and organisational barriers. In addition colleagues at DCLG are working with the Cabinet Office on legislative proposals to break down barriers to data sharing.

And we have encouraged local areas to promote their own examples of how they have shared information. This has led to a website of good practice for information sharing which was developed by local areas and which will provide a strong foundation for the new centre of excellence.

This is just 1 example of how Whitehall, collectively, not in silos, is supporting service transformation.

Also, I hope you saw that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recently reported on its investigation into the role and impact of whole-place Community Budgets. They gave a very positive account of the programme’s approach, the activities of the pilots and potential outcomes they are seeking to deliver.

They said, and I quote:

The whole-place Community Budgets programme has involved local public bodies and central government working together to develop evidence-based plans for new integrated services. Through this programme, 4 local areas have analysed in detail the expected costs and benefits of integration and their findings show clear potential for improving outcomes and reducing costs in each area.

The recommendations identified by the PAC, such as ensuring the programme is evaluated properly and the building the commitment of Whitehall departments to this approach, have underpinned the purpose of the Public Service Transformation Network since its creation.

Which fits nicely into my third theme - how service transformation is spreading across the country.

The goal of the Transformation Network, established earlier this year, is to drive local service transformation by spreading innovation and insight from the whole place pilots and other places.

And to help places to save money and deliver better outcomes for local people by supporting more effective integration and collaboration across public services.

It is early days for the network but there is a clear appetite for local areas to redesign public services to:

  • tackle complex issues
  • reduce demand on public services
  • and support local conditions for growth.

The network continues to support the four whole place pilot areas and the 9 new areas Eric Pickles announced the network would work with back in July.

In particular:

  • we have a dedicated account manager offering tailored and regular contact, support and credible challenge as required
  • we use network secondees to play a brokerage role in improving access and influence across government to help overcome potential barriers
  • we have provided service re-design support and policy insight on specific themes
  • we’ve given dedicated financial support including modelling and cost benefit analysis
  • we are developing an extensive tailored “Network connections” learning programme to share learning and innovation across the places
  • the progress we have made on data sharing I highlighted earlier.

This is a great start and will continue to grow and develop over time.

In addition to our work with these 13 places, we are working with others across the country to support them to redesign services and improve outcomes for local people.

But this is not just about what the network can do for you. We have been very clear that working with the network is a 2-way process.

And areas that are working with us have a responsibility to spread the learning throughout the network, with neighbouring places and across the country.

I know that some of the new places working with the network are speaking later today which is an excellent way of spreading the messages and learning.

I hope that this will inspire others to get involved. And the momentum continues to build.

As I said before, no one needs permission to do this.

I am confident this will happen and hope we have your support in making sure it does.

Thank you.

Published 25 October 2013