Local authorities will be expected to work together in ‘Regional Improvement Alliances’ under new plans announced by the government.
Children’s minister Robert Goodwill announced that up to £20 million would be spent on two schemes to improve local authority children’s services.
In ‘Regional Improvement Alliances’, neighbouring local authorities would challenge each other on standards, agree local improvement priorities and share best practice, the government said. It will be tested in partnership with the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) and the Local Government Association.
The government will also expand the number of local authorities in its Partners In Practice programme to apply to all local authorities with a ‘good’ or better overall Ofsted rating, and ‘good’ or better sub-judgement ratings.
In a speech at the National Children’s and Adults’ Services Conference today, the minister will say he is committed to building a “self-improving system” that “spots where challenges are emerging, and quickly puts the right support in place”.
He will add that there are “too many” people being let down by “poor quality services”.
“That is why we must take decisive action where performance is not good enough,” Goodwill will say.
“Our interventions programme is yielding real results: 36 local authorities have been lifted out of intervention since 2010 and we are seeing a positive impact from the independent children’s social care trusts that we have set up in Doncaster and Slough,” he will say.
What Works Centre
The topic of local authority partnerships improving services had already been raised at the conference. In her keynote address yesterday, ADCS president Alison Michalska said local authority leaders were looking into models for sector-led improvement.
“A model that not only catches authorities before they fall, but also matches the strengths and areas for development in authorities on an improvement trajectory,” Michalska said.
She added that the sector needed resourcing to build its capacity to work this way.
The government also announced today that the charity Nesta will set up its new What Works Centre, as part of a consortium which includes the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).
Other partners are the Alliance for Useful Evidence, a platform for sharing social research and evidence in the UK established by The Big Lottery Fund, the Economic and Social Research Council and Nesta; FutureGov, a company that makes products to improve public services; and consultancy service Traversum.
Plans for the What Works Centre were announced in 2016, and it will lead on sharing evidence and research on best practice across social work.