Headlines: January 9th, 2014

A new fund has been launched to help councils transform their services through the use of new delivery models such as mutuals and voluntary organisations.

Delivering Differently is a joint programme between the Cabinet Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) that will use a £1 million fund to support 10 councils to develop and implement new models for delivering some of their services.

Councils has been invited to apply for this support. The successful applicants will be able to transform their services by combining the best of the public, private and voluntary sectors through partnering, mutualisation, or other innovative forms of commercial model. Mutuals, for example, are employee-owned businesses that give staff the freedom to deliver and improve their services as they know best – resulting in more innovation, greater staff engagement and lower levels of absenteeism.

The Delivering Differently Challenge will provide 10 authorities with up to £100,000 of support to spearhead transformative projects. This includes bespoke professional support to enable them to undertake a strategic review of all available options, guidance from an expert panel and opportunities to network and share their experiences with other Challenge authorities.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said: “The entire public sector faces the challenges of reduced expenditure and rising customer demand. Hard working taxpayers expect us to meet these challenges and to do so we must transform the way services are delivered and break down the old binary choice between in-house and outsourced delivery.”

He added: “We know that by letting front-line staff leave the bureaucratic state hierarchy behind and take ownership of their services, greater efficiency and success can be achieved. That’s why thousands of public servants across the country are taking control of their services and developing innovative delivery models, such as mutuals. It is great to see this spreading to Local Authorities who are responsible for many of our core public services.”

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said: Across the country dozens of councils are already doing more with less, cutting back office bureaucracy and focussing on providing the high quality frontline services that people expect, which has contributed to levels of satisfaction with councils going up nationally.

Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster for instance have teamed up to share their services more effectively whilst at the same time freezing or even cutting council tax. We are now going further still, helping 10 more councils take the initiative and find better more innovative ways of delivering local services for their residents, supported by £1 million of government funding.”