The Essex Partnership is a working relationship between representatives of organisations who deliver services to the public across Essex. It directs and oversees progress on partnership work through the Essex Partnership Board
Different places face different challenges. This is obvious, but public services haven’t always taken this local difference into account. It makes sense that decisions on the shape of local services should be taken locally - with a more local feel to the public sector.
We believe a truly local focus can improve outcomes for Essex residents. The Public Service Reform Unit is delivering a real step change in public service. The video clip below provides more information about the Public Service Reform Unit:
Background to the Public Service Reform Unit (formerly known as Whole Essex Community Budget Programme)
Community Budgets are a flagship initiative of the Coalition Government and were piloted in 2012 in four localities, including Essex. They form not only a key element of the localism agenda (the drive to devolve power from Whitehall to town hall, and from town hall to communities) but also the broader efficiency agenda.
The core idea of community budgets is that a broad range of partners should agree common outcomes and then pool resources and join up activities to achieve those outcomes. Important dimensions are improving quality, efficient use of public money, promoting choice, localism, enabling civil society and prevention of social and economic problems.
Breaking down barriers is key to making localism work, because the more control and flexibility local partners have, the closer they can work with communities and more flexibly respond to their needs. Barriers identified included:
- Multiple, uncoordinated funding streams at local level, and the ‘externalities’ problem of savings not directly benefitting agencies investing in change
- Reactive approaches – wait until a problem becomes a serious issue before addressing (which is expensive) instead of dealing with emerging problems through prevention and early intervention
- Lack of understanding and use of evidence, and the ability to share information across organisational boundaries, including how to apply effective practice to day-to-day service delivery.
- Short term planning of public finances, with CSR as four years, councils required to balance budgets in year
- Commissioning of activity rather than outcomes, so providers are paid by outputs delivered rather outcomes achieved
- Lack of effective structures – e.g. if local partnerships have no legal standing does this prevent pooling on the scale required?
More about the Public Service Reform Unit