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Report finds that Local Strategic Partnerships have 'important lessons to learn from one another'
Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs), which bring together health, councils, the police and other service providers, are central to the government's ambitions for better, more efficient, more joined up local public services.
Now a new report by public services watchdog the Audit Commission finds that LSPs have 'important lessons to learn from one another'. The national report Working Better Together? says that 'LSPs are developing, and each has its own unique history and challenges.' It finds that the more mature LSPs are further advanced, that those in multi-tier areas face greater challenges than those in single-tier areas, but that there is no one model that will guarantee future success.
LSPs are involved in a vast range of important public service provision, tackling wide ranging community issues like reducing teenage pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse, child safety and sustainable transport provision. They often do this by setting up theme groups under titles like Children and Young People, Community Safety, Health and Supporting People.
Councils have worked with one another and with other local organisations for over a century. Rooted in this tradition, LSPs were established in 2000 as part of the local governance system that delivers services across the country. Established to help local partners tackle local problems more effectively, LSPs include local councils, other statutory agencies (health, police, fire and rescue, etc.) and uniquely bring the local public, private, voluntary, and community sectors to the same table.
The report recommends a layered approach to joint working. A strategic layer sets overall direction and checks progress, an executive layer allocates resources and manages performance, and an operational layer deals with actual service delivery. It also says LSPs should 'review progress, make decisions and challenge one another based on performance and resource information.' And there is a special mention for elected members, who it says should better understand LSPs through training and the scrutiny role.
Audit Commission Chief Executive Steve Bundred says:
'Local Strategic Partnerships have grown organically at different rates across the country, and our researchers have found examples of high-performing mature LSPs, and fledgling partnerships that have yet to settle into their important local role.'
'At whatever stage they are in their own development, each one must recognise that it is a catalyst for delivering better local public services. LSPs are also a foundation for this year's new public services reporting mechanism, Comprehensive Area Assessment.'
The Audit Commission will be providing a range of products, including on-line improvement tools, to help LSPs and their partners on their improvement journeys and to influence government to improve policy.
Notes to editors
- This study included a policy and literature review, quantitative analysis of existing research about the 388 LSPs and the 150 Local Area Agreements. A survey of the 388 LSPs, 191 LSP coordinators and 282 LSP board partners completed the survey.
- It also included 17 case studies representing different localities, local authority types, geographical regions, urban and rural areas and LAA rounds. The case study LSPs were: Blackburn with Darwen, Bolton, Derby, Derbyshire, Dorset, East Sussex, Gateshead, Hammersmith and Fulham, Leicestershire, Milton Keynes, Oldham, Oxfordshire, Sandwell, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, and Warwickshire.
- Fieldwork took place between October 2007 and May 2008.
- Several documents and tools support this report, among them self-assessment Questionnaires to improve partnership working and governance, a scrutiny paper giving key messages for councils overview and scrutiny functions, and a delivery chain analysis tool to remove obstacles to local joint working.
- An online LSP improvement tool will be available on from early May 2009.