Welcome to the Public Works blog.

Public Works is UNISON Scotland's campaign for jobs, services, fair taxation and the Living Wage. This blog will provide news and analysis on the delivery of public services in Scotland. We welcome comments and if you would like to contribute to this blog, please contact Dave Watson d.watson@unison.co.uk. For other information on what's happening in UNISON Scotland please visit our website.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Challenges of locality planning

The Christie Commission supported the idea of drilling down locality planning to 'real' communities below our mainly very large council areas. They saw merit in the English 'Total Place' concept that brought together funding and sought to integrate services at local level.

The Public Bodies (Joint Working) Bill provides, at section 23(3) that strategic plans produced by health and social care partnerships must include provision for dividing the area of the local authority into two or more localities, and setting out separately arrangements for the carrying out of the integration functions in relation to each such locality. This recognises that as with 'Total Place' some aspects of service planning can operate more effectively and efficiently at a more local level than the integration authority itself. No model of locality planning is prescribed in the Bill, as the Scottish Government believes that local arrangements are best developed and agreed upon locally.

The difficulties with locality planning in Scotland's local government structure was highlighted by me and other organisations giving evidence to the Health Committee and this is reflected in the First Stage report, which states: 
"The Committee is also fully supportive of the idea of locality planning, which will be essential if services are to redesigned in a bottom-up way that engages individuals and local communities in a flexible way that delivers the best possible outcomes for patients and other service users."

In 2010 the UK Government announced its intention to pilot Community Budgets in England as a method of integrating public services and giving, “local public service partners the freedom to work together to redesign services around the needs of citizens, improving outcomes, reducing duplication and waste and so saving significant sums of public money”

The Westminster, Communities and Local Government Committee has recently looked at this issue and published a report that found: 
"that the pilot Community Budgets are already demonstrating, through joint working between agencies and local and central government, the clear potential to facilitate cheaper and more integrated public services. They can also be used to make public services more effective by focusing on the specific needs of local areas and individual service users. However, achieving their full potential will require strong leadership at a local level as well as a commitment from central government to facilitate local partnerships and the flexibilities needed to develop local strategies and solutions to specific local issues."

The report also concludes that:
"Community Budgets have shown the potential to provide for the future development of public services. If not they may simply become the latest ‘shiny new idea’ at risk of being replaced within a few years."

The same could be said about locality planning in Scotland.

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