Whole Essex Community Budget
With Good Friday fast approaching, it’s an earlier update this week. Many of you will have seen coverage in the media over recent days outlining the use of a payment by results approach to support 120,000 troubled families.
This announcement builds on our ongoing Phase 1 Community Budgets work where, working with partners in five localities, the EssexFamily project has developed innovative approaches with local families – ranging from new forms of support and intervention to systemic approaches considering how public services can better work with families.
In this week's Public Service, Dr Katherine Rake, CEO of the Family and Parenting Institute suggests that these troubled families will be best helped when government takes a common approach to addressing the issue rather than pursuing conflicting policy objectives. This is, of course, precisely what a Whole Place Community Budget seeks to achieve – a common approach to local problems.
This common approach is helped by having central government departments around the table. I’m pleased to announce that, with Rupert Gill from HM Treasury, David Clarke from the Home Office and Sian Gordon-Brown from the Department of Health all having recently joined the programme, we very nearly have our full complement of Whitehall secondees.
Given the number of organisations and individuals involved in the Whole Essex Community Budget, the scale and complexity of the undertaking can, at times, be rather daunting. What has struck me about the programme thus far has been the number of examples of organisations coming together around shared objectives.
The example of our Safer Essex partnership is a good one – they have set up additional monthly sessions to ensure they are able to inform and influence the work of the Whole Essex Community Budget. This week the first of those monthly meetings saw the group discuss ways in which a Community Budget could make a practical difference. We want to retain this enthusiasm and use it to push forward new approaches not just in community safety but across all of our project workstreams.
Another promising development is the collaboration taking place between workstreams – a case in point being the work of our Families with Complex Needs and our Community Safety teams. The problems both groups are seeking to address don’t exist in isolation. The groups are taking the time, as they develop specific approaches, to ensure that each workstream’s activities take into account what is happening elsewhere. It would be a shame if a Community Budget approach inadvertently succeeded in creating new silos.
Across all of our programme workstreams, we continue to develop ‘as is’ assessments, helping shape our understanding of the citizen experience, multi-agency contacts and the potential to improve and reform public services in Essex.
Thank you if you have already offered time or resources to the project – it’s heartening to see so many partners keen to make this programme work. As we continue to scope projects, gaps in our knowledge will no doubt emerge, but for now, if you or your organisation have expertise in project management or communications and engagement, I’d be particularly keen to hear from you – drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll close now by wishing you all a happy and restful Easter. Thank you for your help and support to date.