Central and local government team up to improve services
- Published on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 09:26
- Written by Govtoday staff
A new fund has been launched to help local authorities transform their services through the use of new delivery models such as mutuals and voluntary organisations.
Delivering Differently is a joint programme between the Cabinet Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Local Government Association and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives that will use a £1m fund to support 10 pioneering local authorities to develop and implement new models for delivering some of their services.
Government is encouraging local authorities to apply for this support. The successful applicants will be able to transform their services by combining the best of the public, private and voluntary sectors through partnering, mutualisation, or other innovative forms of commercial model. Mutuals, for example, are employee-owned businesses that give staff the freedom to deliver and improve their services as they know best - resulting in more innovation, greater staff engagement and lower levels of absenteeism.
At the heart of the programme is the Delivering Differently Challenge, which will provide 10 authorities with up to £100,000 of support to spearhead transformative projects. This includes bespoke professional support to enable them to undertake a strategic review of all available options, guidance from an expert panel and opportunities to network and share their experiences with other Challenge authorities.
Minister for the cabinet office Francis Maude said: "The entire public sector faces the challenges of reduced expenditure and rising customer demand. Hard working taxpayers expect us to meet these challenges and to do so we must transform the way services are delivered and break down the old binary choice between in-house and outsourced delivery.
"We know that by letting front-line staff leave the bureaucratic state hierarchy behind and take ownership of their services, greater efficiency and success can be achieved. That's why thousands of public servants across the country are taking control of their services and developing innovative delivery models, such as mutuals. It is great to see this spreading to Local Authorities who are responsible for many of our core public services."
Local government secretary Eric Pickles said: "Across the country dozens of councils are already doing more with less, cutting back office bureaucracy and focussing on providing the high quality frontline services that people expect, which has contributed to levels of satisfaction with councils going up nationally.
"Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster for instance have teamed up to share their services more effectively whilst at the same time freezing or even cutting council tax. We are now going further still, helping 10 more councils take the initiative and find better more innovative ways of delivering local services for their residents, supported by £1m of government funding."
Cllr Peter Fleming, chair of LGA's Improvement Board, said: "Local authorities are already embracing new ways to provide their services and we are keen to see the additional possibilities which the Delivering Differently programme will bring.
"Councils are committed to ensuring residents can access cost effective services in a convenient way and we are pleased that this fund will enable councils to further develop their innovative ideas and approaches for alternative delivery models as part of their commitment to delivering vital services to communities."
To participate in the Delivering Differently Challenge, local authorities must complete an expression of interest form by 10 February 2014. Shortlisted authorities will be invited to interview later in the month, with successful applicants conducting reviews of their services from March.
The announcement follows the launch of 3BM in April, which was the first mutual joint venture to spin out of local government. The venture, which provides a range of critical school support services, is made up of staff from three London boroughs and is expected to result in £1m in savings over the next four years.