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Ministers welcome public services improvement report

Ministers have welcomed a new independent report into how local public services can improve to put people first and keep Council Tax down.

Ahead of next week’s Autumn Statement, the final report from the independent Service Transformation Challenge Panel was welcomed on Wednesday 26 November 2014 by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

The panel, chaired by former and current local authority chief executives Sir Derek Myers and Pat Ritchie, was set up in April as part of the government’s continued commitment to deliver better, more open public services centred around individuals and families’ needs rather than working in traditional Whitehall silos.

They were asked to recommend changes which would help public services deal with demographic changes, increasing expectations and the need to reduce the cost of public services.

The panel has called for 3 fundamental changes:

  • that local and central government use the person-centred approach of the Troubled Families programme to design services for groups and individuals with multiple and complex needs
  • more easily accessible and more flexible funding for the up-front costs of transformation, but not more cash overall
  • radical improvements in how data and technology are used to provide smarter services

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said:

The successful Troubled Families programme has shown how by bringing services together in a common sense way we can get better results and save money for the taxpayer too. This report now provides us with a blueprint as to how we can take this approach forward into other areas such as jobs, skills and early years, and as we are already doing with health and social care through the Better Care Fund.

Residents’ satisfaction with services has gone up in the past 4 years while Council Tax has been kept down by cutting waste and focussing on frontline services. I welcome the fact that the Challenge Panel have shown us how we can continue to make that kind of progress in the future by putting people first and building services around them.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

Breaking down barriers between public services at a local level enables people to get a better, more coordinated service at less cost. That is what we are achieving through the Troubled Families programme, the Better Care Fund and other initiatives. This level of collaborative reform will be crucial to meeting the fiscal challenges of the next parliament in a fair way, that maintains high quality services. The Panel’s report makes the case brilliantly and I look forward to leading this agenda in the coming months.

The panel has made 20 specific recommendations, including:

  • the best performing councils and local services should agree public service ‘deals’ with the government, allowing them greater local flexibility over how services are organised, provided and funded
  • a £5 billion transformation fund should be created from existing pots of cash, including the transformation and innovation funds from across Whitehall
  • local and central government should make better use of all public assets, building and land, to fund service improvements
  • a presumption in favour of safe data sharing so that, when accessing public services, people can be confident information with will be securely and effectively shared so they only have to tell their story once and get a more effective response

Further information

Read the full independent report: Bolder, braver and better: why we need local deals to save public services.

The government will respond formally to the report shortly.

More background about the Panel, its membership, their visits and evidence gathering can be found on the Public Service Transformation Network website

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