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P. 1
Public Services Reform: a response to the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee

Public Services Reform: a response to the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee

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Public Services Reform: a response to the Scottish Parliament’s
Local Government and Regeneration Committee
Public Services Reform: a response to the Scottish Parliament’s
Local Government and Regeneration Committee

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Published by: The Royal Society of Edinburgh on Mar 13, 2013
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03/27/2014

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 Advice Pape
January 2013
1
Public Services Reform: a response to the Scottish Parliament’sLocal Government and Regeneration Committee
(13–02)
Introduction
1
TheRSEwelcomestheopportunitytocontributetotheworkoftheLocalGovernmentandRegenerationCommitteeandstrand3ofitsinquiryintopublicservicesreform.Whilsttheinquiryhasbeentakenin3strands,manyoftheissuesbeingraisedseemtobeinextricablylinked;thereforesomeofourcommentsmayalsorelatetoearlierstrandsoftheworkoftheCommittee.
2
ThecriticalstartingpointforallofthisworkfromtheperspectiveoftheRSEisthatanysignificantprogrammeofreformofpublicservicesshouldbedrivenbyan“outcomesbased”approach,i.e.anapproachthatfocusesonwhatservicesaretobedeliveredandwhattheservicesaredesignedtoachieve.
3
Thequestionsposedinthecallforevidencegivenoobviousreferencetoanoutcomesbasedapproach,noraretheyasetofquestionsabouteffectiveness.Effectivenessshouldbethefirstconsiderationinanoutcomesbasedapproach.Theimplicationoftheremitoftheinquiryisthatachievingeconomiesofscaleistheprimefocus.
4
WhilstwerecognisethatthecurrentpressuresonpublicfinancesdoesrequiretheScottishGovernmentandScottishParliamenttoexaminetheopportunitiesformorefinanciallyefficientdeliveryofpublicservices,thisshouldnotbetheonlymeasurebywhichpublicservicesarejudgedtheoutcomesforpeople,communitiesandbusinessesinScotlandallneedtobeforemostinconsideringanyprogrammeofreform.Inreformingpublicservicesitisalsoimportantthatfullconsiderationisgiventothedemographictrendsthatindicateanageingpopulationandonewithadecliningnumberofpeopleintheworkingagepopulation.WhilstitispossiblethatmigrationwithintheEUmaychangethispatterntosomedegreeastherecentcensusindicatesitisprobablytooearlytojudgewhetherthishasbeenashort-termimpactofEUenlargementorwillrepresentamorepermanentchangetoScotlandspopulationagedistribution.
5
Takingfulladvantageofdigitaltechnologyalsoprovidesopportunitiestoreformpublicservicesthatbothbringtheservicesclosertotheindividual,whilstalsopotentiallyimprovingtheeffectivenessofthepublicserviceintermsofoutcomeandfinancialefficiency.Themajorbarriertofullymaximisingthebenefitsofdigitaltodatelieinthesignificantpercentageofpeoplewhoeitherdonotcurrentlyhaveaccesstothetechnology,orwhodonotfullyusetherangeofservicesandfunctionsthatthetechnologyoffers.TheRSEwillshortlybelaunchinganInquiryinto
ReapingtheBenefitsofaDigitalScotland
,whichwehopewillhelptoidentifysomeofthebarriersandproposewaystoaddressthem.
6
Itisessentialthatthe“digitaldividethattheRSEseekstostudyaspartofitsInquiryisadequatelyaddressed,particularlygiventheUKGovernment’s“digitalbydefault”approach.
7
WhilsttheRSErecognisessomeofthedriversinseekingtoshareserviceprovision,wherethisinvolvesthreeormoreorganisationsitcanbeproblematic.Inmanycasesitcanbeadvancedmoreeasilywheretheorganisationshavedifferentremitsbutwithinthesamegeographicboundary,suchasahealthboardwithalocalauthority,ratherthanwhenorganisationshavethesameremitbutdifferentboundaries,suchasagroupoflocalauthorities.Inthelattersituationtherecanoftenbeconflictifindividualorganisationsarecompetingforprioritisationintheoutputofthesharedservice.
8
Itispossibletoachievepartnershipsbetweenorganisationswithparallelresponsibilities,butonlyifabuy-intosharedoutcomeshasbeenworkeduponinadvance,suchasintheClydeValleyinitiative.Sharedtrustintheserviceoutcomesisvitalinsuchsharedservices.
9
Aswellashavingasharedsenseofoutcome,itisalsoimportantthataccurateandcomparablesuppliesofdataareavailable.FromtheworkontheClydeValleystudy,itisevidentthatthesecanbevariabletoasignificantdegree.
 
2
 Advice Pape
13–02
10
Itisalsoimportanttorecognisethatevenwiththeestablishmentofajointaimthattheimplementationofsharedservicesrequiresconsiderableeffortaslogisticalandpoliticalchallengescanemergeduringthisprocess.
AddressingtheCommittee’squestions:
Whatarelocalauthoritiesdoingorconsideringdoingintermsofalternativedeliverymethods?Whathasworkedandwhathasn’t?Whatsavingshavebeenachievedfromadoptingalternativedeliverymethods?WhatsupportisbeingprovidedbytheGovernmentindrivingchange?
11
TheCommitteeshouldconsiderwhatismeantbyalternativedeliverymethods.Itisamistaketoplaceallofthefocusonshareddelivery.Thewayinwhichlocalauthoritieshavechangedoverthepast15yearshasnotalwaysbeenfullyrecognisedbycentralgovernmentwithmanycoreresponsibilitiesnowbeingdeliveredthroughthethirdsector.
12
ThereareexamplesinEnglandofservicesbeing‘Communitised’.OnesuchexampleisofCountyCouncilswherethereisanolderpopulation,andwheretheyhavebeenrecruitingolderpeopletoprovideadviceandsupporttootherolderpeople.(ExamplesofthisexistinDorset&Wiltshire).Itisperhapsmorelikelythatolderpeoplewilltakeadviceandsupportfromthoseofasimilarageandwithsimilarexperiencesthanfromsocialworkerswhoaremuchyoungerthantheyare.
13
AfurtherexampleisavailableinsomeLondonBoroughsaroundtransportingchildrenwithadditionalsupportneeds.NorthAyrshireCouncilprovidesasimilarexample.HeretheCouncilhasbeenworkingwithgroupsofparentsofchildrenwithadditionalsupportneeds,encouragingandenablingthemtorunarotafortakingtheirchildrentoandfromschool.Thisseemstomakemoresensethanhavingspeciallyequippedbuseswhichareonlyusedtwiceaday,especiallysincetheparentsofthesechildrenoftenhavesuitablyequippedvehiclesalready.Theseexamplescompriseablendofvoluntarycontributions(oftimeandresources)aswellasdifferentlysalariedstaffwhocanberecompensedfortheirtimeinvariousways.
Howareopportunitiesforsharingservicesbeingidentified?
14
Manyoftheexamplescitedinregardtothisarerelativelytrivialandamounttomere‘dropsintheoceanwhenitcomestocostsavings.Largerscalesavingsarenotevident.TranscendingandcooperatingacrossLocalAuthorityboundariesischallengingandrequiresabuy-intotheprocessatpoliticalandseniorofficerlevel.ThiswasakeycomponentoftheClydeValleypartnershipcitedinparagraph9.
15
DoesScotlandneed32LocalAuthorities?ItisoftenarguedthatifScotlandhadfewer,largerLocalAuthoritiesitwouldbeeasiertoshareservicesandfunctionsacrossLocalAuthorityboundaries.ButthereisaproblemaroundhowLocalAuthorityboundarieswouldbedeterminediftheyweretobechanged.Forexample,ifLocalAuthorityboundariesweredeterminedbyscale,withaminimumsizetobeencompassedwithineachboundary,wewouldfaceadifficultywithregardtocertain‘unmoveableboundaries’,especiallyamongstdistinctislandcommunitieswhodonotwanttobesubsumedwithinalargergeographicalregion.
16
Thereareaconsiderablenumberoffactorsthatarisefromboundarychanges,andmanyoftheexistingboundariesaremaintainedforallsortsofhistoricalreasons.However,itisnowapproaching20yearssincetheestablishmentofthecurrentmapoflocalgovernmentandwiththedrivetowardsgreatercoordinationandefficiency;itmaynowbeanappropriatetimetoreconsiderthisissue.
Howarethetensionsbetweenpotentialsavingsandpotentialjoblossesbeingresolved?
17
Averyhighproportionofspendinpublicservicesarisesfromthecostofemployingsuitablyqualifiedstafftodelivertheservicesexpected.Tosavesignificantsumsofmoneytherewillhavetobereducednumbersofstaff.Furtherreductionsinoverallbudgetsandthenumbersofstaffwillinevitablyleadtotensionsbetweenemployersandthetradeunionsonhowthisismanaged.Todateitwouldseemthatconflicthasbeenminimisedbytheapproachofmanypublicservicesinseekingtoavoidcompulsoryredundancies.
 
18
Itisalsoimportanttorecognisethatinmovingtosharedservicesbetweenpublicagenciesthereisalsoarequirementtotrainstaffintheskillsinvolvedinworkingacrossorganisationalboundaries.
Whatlegislativebarriersaretheretodevelopingsharedandinnovativeservicedeliverymodelstotheirfullpotential?
19
Thereisnolegislativebarrier;amajorbarrierisafear/reluctanceofcausingdisruption.Insharingserviceslocalelectedmembersunderstandablyseektodefendtheirowncommunities.Therefore,developingtrustbetweenpotentialpartnerlocalauthoritiesisanessentialcomponentofachievingcrossborderpartnerships.
20
TherecanalsobeVATimplicationsofsharedservicesthatcaninflatecostsorcanceloutorreduceanyanticipatedsavingsfromthesharedprovision.Itcanthereforeoftenbebetterforserviceproviderstosimplyprovideservicesthemselvestoavoidthetransactioncostsassociatedwithsharingservices.
Inwhatareasistherescopefornationalsharedservicesalongthelinesofthesharedrecruitmentportalforlocalauthorities‘myjobscotland’?
21
Thereisawidevarietyofoptionsthatcouldbeconsidered,forexamplestandardisingallplanningconsentforms.IsitnecessaryforthesetobedifferentwithineachLocalAuthorityasiscurrentlythecase?Thereisscopeforimprovingmobilitybymakingformsetc.uniformacrossLocalAuthorityboundariesandbeingabletocreateandstorealldataelectronically.
22
Therearemanyopportunitiesforservicestobecomeelectronic,butonlyifthereisequalityofaccess.Glasgowforexampleonlyhasaround60%ofthepopulationconnectedtoBroadbandinternet.Also,makingeverythingaccessibleelectronicallyonlyworksifthereisnootheralternative.Wheretheoptionstillexistsforpeopledothings(e.g.renewingcartax)inperson,aproportionwillcontinuetodosoratherthanuseanelectronicsystem.
23
TherearemanyLocalAuthorityemployees,e.g.gardeners,refusecollectors,whodonotregularlyaccessorusetheinternetaspartoftheirjobs,andthereforedon’thaveregular/constantaccesstocouncilupdateswhicharepublishedovertheweb.Forexample,councilupdatesonschoolclosuresduetoweatherareoftenissuedviatheinternet.Thisassumesthatthemajorityofpeoplewillhaveaccesstoalaptop/PCandbeloggingonfirstthinginthemorning.Thisisbynomeansthecase.
24
Fromaproceduralpointofview,thereisaconfidencebarriertosharingserviceselectronically.Facebookpenetrationisprobablyfargreaterthancomputerbaseddigitalaccesstoinformation.Accesstotheinternet(Facebook,emailetc.)ismorelikelytobedoneviamobilephonesthanviacomputer.Theuseofsocialmediaforinformationsharingetc.tendstoraiseconcernsaboutdataprotection,butconcernsaboutthisarenotinsurmountable.Informationsharingandwebaccessviamobilephones,ratherthancomputers,ispossiblythewaytogoforsomefunctions.
Whathasbeenlearnedfromelsewhere,forexampleNottinghamEarly InterventionCityorBirminghamtotalplaceinitiative?
25
Thesearestrongexamplesbutitisimportanttoensurethattheyarenotsimply‘islandsofexcellence’.Theextentoflearningacrossboundariesisnotclear.PartofwhatMSPsshouldbeempoweredtodoistolookatexamplesofgoodpracticefromothercouncils.However,moreneedstobedonetoensurethatsuchsharingandlearningacrossboundariesdoestakeplacebetweenScottishLocalAuthorities.
Inwhatwayscaninnovativedelivery methodsandcollaborativearrangements(asmentioned,forexample,intheChristieCommissionreport)helptoimproveoutcomesandtackleembeddedsocialproblems?
26
Itcouldbearguedthat,ifwearealreadyprovidinggoodservicesthenallthatweneedtodoisrolltheseouttothosewhoaren’talreadyreceivingthem.However,thisappliesonlyiftheserviceswearealreadyprovidingaregoodandmeettheneedsofdifferentpeopleinourcommunities
27
LocalAuthoritiesneedtogetthebalancerightbetweenoverallrelationshipmanagementandpersonalisedrelationshipmanagement.Itisoftenadifficultbalancetostrikebutmoreneedstobedonetopersonalisethedeliveryofservices,forexamplethereareveryfewexamplesofhowpersonalisedmanagementissuccessfullyscaleduptobeyond1000+people.
3
 Advice Pape
13–02

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