Headlines: November 12th, 1999

Persuading professionals in different organisations to think how services can be delivered differently is a barrier to joined up working. This is the view of people in six Pathfinder – New Deal For Communities – projects launched in September 1998. The authors of the report ‘Pathfinders’ Experiences’, published by the Department for the Environment Transport and Regions, canvassed the views of residents, local authority officers and other professionals who were involved in the projects.Because the New Deal for Communities is concerned with deprived communities in defined locations and focuses on worklessness, health, crime and education, it cuts across existing structures and cultures. The Pathfinder teams experienced difficulty building partnerships with the necessarily wide range of bodies. A particular problem was that decision making processes were all different. One approach that proved successful in overcoming this was a Partnership professional support team with representatives from a council, a NHS trust, police, Employment Service and Further Education.

Budgets also hindered joined up working. Pathfinders found difficulty gathering details of existing programme spending in the area. Most agencies do not construct budges in such a way that they can easily identify their spending in an area as small as a New Deal Community neighbourhood. Some organisations were reluctant to say precisely how much they are spending.

The Report can be seen at www.regeneration.detr.gov.uk/ndc/phase1path/index.htm

An NDC Forum for others to add their experiences is at www.regen.net