This independent report from the Policy Research Institute at Leeds Metropolitan University and the Cities Research Unit at the University of West of England describes what has worked, why and in what circumstances, in the drive to build capacity. It also looks to the future. The programme was launched in 2003 as a joint Department for Communities and Local Government and Local Government Association initiative to support capacity building and improvement activities within local authorities in England.
The Pilots placed a strong emphasis on the importance of locally determined priorities and support mechanisms in effective capacity building and improvement activity. Senior level commitment emerged as a prime success factor.
Impacts from the programme were most pronounced in terms of new skills and increased confidence, the acquisition of skills tended to be related to generic management and project management competencies. Personal networks and relationships were strengthened between leadership level staff in partnerships, particularly in corporate performance and improvement, HR, communications and consultation.
For the future it will be important to maintain a mixed market of the National Program, Direct Support and Improvement Partnerships. It will also be helpful to move to an output based focus. The starting point should be ‘what needs to be delivered’ and then to decide what capacity building is needed across all the partners.