Solace Special: workstream update [Weds pm]
LGC is supporting the Solace Summit as media partner and throughout the event we’ll be summarising the discussion points.
Solace has identified five workstreams, which will be revisited at breakout sessions during the event. This afternoon featured the third session for each workstream. Here is a brief summary of the points raised:
Workstream 1: Your local future
- Identity - how others see you. You need to be in control of this.
- Sense of place and belonging
- Connecting past with future - identify and use DNA
- Growth and outcomes - need to define what you mean by this.
- Sweat your assets. Fuzzy geography - not defined by a boundary.
- Politicians are important as they provide local connection.
- We can conflict with business audience so how are skills developed to help them let go/drive from back seat
- Discussions about place should extend beyond political timeframe. We are all guilty of short termism at times
- Difficult when structures eg LEPs do not match up to others’ sense of place though LEPs are opportunity to bring politicians and businesses together
- Narrative should let leaders prioritise. Should also help them stop doing things as much as do things!
- Leadership is about letting go
- Public sector in a different place when resources tight but still have a leadership role
- What role can social enterprises play
- Ensuring development is a catalyst for the change you want
- A story you control and define is important but then it is how you use it - how you engage others.
- Have relationships about: communications; products; environment; behaviour
- Place narrative is made up of and influence these areas:
- ‘Big idea’ model for the place;
- Recognition of place management;
- Loss of retailers;
- Private sector;
- Blurring of boundaries.
Facilitated by John Till, Deborah Tate and George Pye from thinkingplace (www.thinkingplace.co.uk)
Workstream 2: A democratic path?
- Charter for member and officer commitment
- Building local democratic leadership
- Using scrutiny to engage with the public and make good decisions – focusing on the positive rather than what’s gone wrong
- Scrutiny about influence in the community
- Here and now focus vs middle and long term for members
- Communities helping themselves rather than relying on help. Getting their views on priorities and health issues.
- Relationship building between agencies, clear direction of where to get to, understanding on who can deliver what, etc.
- Joint ownership and a conversation on how do you manage budgets together to deliver outcomes
- Public health is about improving health and wellbeing of the population
- Involve the public and members early on in the conversations using trusted doctors and clinician to deliver the message. Pulling the policy-making back and have those conversations.
- A dilemma: It takes time to shift behaviour and see the differences and results, but tangible results are needed now.
- On the health agenda a lot has been done ahead of April 2013, but not the same with the police commissioners as we don’t know who they’ll be.
- Open data may be on the verge of a big increase. Glaxo Smith Kilne release of information interesting – private sector anticipating economic benefit in terms of developing products.
- Innovation is key to the growth – not about the data alone but how it’s used, structured, mapped, made into mobile applications.
- Much fear of giving data “culture of secrecy” but also a mistrust of that data from citizens.
- The context is important rather than just the information.
- A challenge for CXs to look at where their organisations are and see what additional information can be provided without much cost – eg can they publish 5 extra data sets a year?
Workstream 3: The expectation of prosperity
- It’s not regeneration and planning, it’s about facilitating and enabling economic growth.
- We’ve seen a profound shift in how local government considers economic development: from nice to have to essential. Unless you have economic growth you can’t have your other priorities.
- There appears to be a disconnect in perceptions – between how local government thinks it is working with business – and the attitude business has to local government.
- Opportunities do exist despite the poor outlook. These include:-
- Opportunities to borrow at low interest rates for infrastructure development;
- Prudential borrowing;
- Taking a more innovative approach to risk;
- Joint ventures with private sector.
- Local authorities crucial to local growth- sets the conditions for local growth and is the ‘last man standing’.
- Key role for local authorities in solving knotty issues that don’t require lots of money, e.g skills in Leicester and Leicestershire.
- There is no lack of money for local government, we just need to access it better, e.g. CIL, growing places, EU regional development funding
- Governance is crucial - local authorities are too big to deliver services locally and too small to do strategic planning and investment. Need to change the way we work to deliver growth will reshape local government- LEPs a stepping stone to combined authorities in cities and shire counties
- But are we just trying to design solutions ‘from a macro- economic helicopter’ rather than really understanding the local economy in sufficient detail by looking for a common denominator that doesn’t exist and makes us make a number of assumptions that don’t explain issues in the local economy? Should we be avoiding cross-sector and cross-local authority solutions? Local areas can solve skills issues and skills agenda more successfully than central government so powers should be devolved?
- Inspirational examples in the UK now and in the past (Victorians and revival of civic entrepreneurism) and internationally, e.g. Using waste and energy to make money and stimulate the local economy, buying infrastructure
- Know your economy and understand how to make bold interventions. Making interventions and owning things- do you need to own it to make a market intervention or just to really understand it and have enough social weight behind you? Strategic use of community leadership
- Pragmatism based on honesty about local circumstances and the rationality of place in the current situation rather than ideology? Need to be realistic and honest about the economic decline ( smaller UK economy and smaller public sector) and think about the demand side of local government rather than trying to ‘throttle it’. What do we need
- Hard infrastructure vs. soft infrastructure - role for local government in matching hard investment in infrastructure to soft skills?
- Reducing the risk for SMEs and recognising SMEs are the biggest part of our economy and this is not
- Need to have hard conversations nationally and locally about the economic rationality of place and what we do for places that no longer have an alternative economic future?
Facilitated by Max Wide and Martin Cresswell of iMPOWER
Workstream 4: Doing less with less
- Need to gather evidence and anecdotes of where co production is already working.
- There’s a need to differentiate between co-design of services and co-implementation of services. By addressing this then you’ll reduce work from getting things wrong!
- Will be a new skills demand for the type of public servant that will help moving towards co-production.
- We need to co-produce co-production with others who are already very experienced of this.
- Role for Solace to work with regulators to establish what accountability of co-production will look like and to champion co-production.
- Following discussions the general opinion shifted towards incentivising the public to make this change happen.
- If we’re asking the public to design and do more, does this increase the risk of it not being a democratic solution.
- Adult social care, we’re going to have to learn to take risk. Negative example of personal budgets.
Facilitated by Catherine Staite of INLOGOV
Workstream 5: An informed future
- Culture change is needed about understanding and use of evidence – this for decision-makers, politicians and the public
- Evidence producers need to improve their understanding of the needs of practitioners
- Making evidence gathering more flexible and less resource intensive – looking for alternatives to RCTs and pilot
- How to reconcile the tensions between evidence and innovation – to evaluate interventions
- ‘Keeping it real at a local level’ – making sure evidence is locally relevant and understandable.
- Is the research and evidence there or do we need to commission it?
- There are cultural issues blocking effective use of research in both sectors
- There are potential solutions to the culture change issues – focusing on leadership, politics, central government actions, operational, and workforce issues
- We need to create structures to promote trust and dialogue between sectors – and engage in dialogue with researchers to identify the right questions
- Waste collection/recycling emerging as a strong theme for examples of evidence-based decision making, despite being an exemplar of the ‘district mentality’
- Evidence can be used to overcome political barriers – as the current climate incentivises joining up, this can be a key moment.
- ‘What works’ is not the same question as ‘what is replicable and sustainable’ – must devote resources to the second as well as the first.
- Only standardise that which is standardisable
- Triangulation is key, between qualitative information, quantitative data, and stakeholders – evidence doesn’t exist without context.
- Invest to save – issues with this
- Accessibility of service user data – especially around health data and information governance
- Alternatives to randomised controlled trials – they only work to test certain types of intervention
Facilitated by Jonathon Breckon of the Alliance for Useful Evidence
For a look ahead at day two, see the Solace Summit programme
More Solace Summit articles:
- Solace managing director Kathryn Rossiter and LGC editor Emma Maier on the summit
- Interview with outgoing Solace chair Derek Myers
- Public sector commentator and former LGC editor Richard Vize sets the scene for the summit
The Solace Summit is a unique and unrivalled opportunity for senior management professionals to engage in peer-to-peer learning. It provides new entrepreneurial opportunities for dialogue and shared endeavour, with new and existing contacts. LGC is supporting the event as media partner and will be reporting on the themes before and after the event.