In the face of declining resources and rising demand, councils are facing a set of tough and complex pressures. The most entrenched and costly social problems being faced require a more connected and holistic approach. The view is services will need to be provided in a radically different way across the sector and take an approach that will go beyond the council itself. Councils and all local partners are facing similar financial pressures and the time has now come for a fundamental rethink of service delivery across the sector.
The commission decided to take a step back from smaller targeted reviews of particular issues, to take a longer view and look more broadly at how effectively the Hackney pound was being spent locally. The review set out to explore the barriers to what has become known as 'whole place' thinking. This review intended to help the Council deal with two fundamental challenges: first, big cuts in public expenditure and second, more complex social challenges that require a very different approach from the Council, other public agencies and the wider community.
We spoke to John Atkinson, Sue Goss, (previous leaders of total place programme) Early Intervention Foundation, LankellyChase Foundation and London Borough of Lambeth. We went on a site visit to London Borough of Lewisham to view their community budget pilot where we spoke to frontline staff and met service users in the centre.
The review highlighted that breaking down silo working will require a fundamental shift in organisation culture and that the culture of the organisation and trust among the various organisations and frontline staff would be key. Service redesign work across the whole place and whole system would require considering how frontline staff across the sector could work holistically with service users, to meet their needs at the first point of contact (early intervention or at the point of need).
We published our report in November 2015.
In tandem to developing principles for 'whole place thinking' and service redesign, the commission carried out a deep investigation into one service area of high spend and high need - supporting the long term unemployed - in order to test the principles and to collate an evidence base of service users' views, that could be used to commence work on service redesign.
The review highlighted that approaches which ignore the complexity of individuals' lives as well as local community circumstances, which deliver a one size fits all solution will fail to meet local needs. The commission's deep dive into the problem of long term unemployment linked to mental illness concluded that a radically new approach is needed to support people facing these challenges. They require solutions that are built around people and places rather than around traditional bureaucratic silos. Based on the service redesign principles we outlined in the report.
Our recommendations encouraged the Council to embark on the journey despite there not being a blueprint of defined outcomes. We call on the Council and its partners to pilot a new model of employment support for this group, based on these principles.
Response from cabinet member
Cabinet will publish a response to the commission's recommendations. We will publish details of the response here.
What has happened as a result of the review?
The commission is due to receive feedback on the implementation of these recommendations following the executive response. This will be reviewed by the commission in April 2016.