Issue 7: Nov 2013

MAKING IT LOCAL AND INTEGRATED IN ARGYLL & BUTE

By Ailsa Clark, Chair, ABSEN

The Argyll & Bute Local Service Initiative project has shown that a partnership approach to service delivery has significant advantages of accessing local solutions to problems, flexibility of income streams and assisting communities to take an active role in shaping sustainable service delivery.

Argyll and Bute is a rural area, covering 6,909 km2 (2nd largest local authority area in Scotland) including 25 inhabited islands with a population of 89,590.  The delivery of local services within this geographic setting can be challenging and further exacerbated by the impacts of year on year public sector cuts and the current financial climate.

The proposal was to establish whether, by combining the strengths of public and social enterprise sector approaches, improved and more efficient services could be delivered.

The innovative work of several Argyll based social enterprises delivering public services was recognised by Carnegie UK Trust as part of a UK-wide inquiry into the future for rural communities.  Argyll and Bute Council had outlined their commitment to engaging with the Third Sector to find solutions in delivering the services that people need and the Argyll and Bute Social Enterprise Network was engaged in supporting their growing membership base to contribute to community led economic growth across the area.

This provided the context in which the Argyll and Bute Local Services Initiative was established as a partnership involving Argyll and Bute Social Enterprise Network, Argyll and Bute Council, NHS Highland, Carnegie UK Trust, Argyll Voluntary Action and Strathclyde University with funding support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise. 

The proposal was to establish whether, by combining the strengths of public and social enterprise sector approaches, improved and more efficient services could be delivered.

The ABLSI steering group identified examples of public services being developed or delivered through partnership with social enterprise that could provide case study examples. The project provided various interventions to assist social enterprise delivery of services (providing support, training, mediation and undertaking feasibility work). Interviews with key stakeholders from the social enterprises and public sector involved in the service area were carried out to further add to the evidence base and learning.

Through the process of supporting services, carrying out case study research and discussing the issues the steering group was able to: identify key success factors, create a set of recommendations and provide an evidence base to inform future partnership approaches to service delivery.

The main findings of the project:

•    Successful services were born out of a pressing need, either from the community or through political drivers.
•    In many of the successes, a key factor was a strong relationship and working partnership between all parties.
•    Many of the successful changes or improvements to services came about through the help and guidance of a third party.
•    As competition for funding increases, all organisations need to prove the wider social and environmental benefits from the services they provide.
•    The strongest service delivery partnerships were ones in which the local community have been fully engaged.

Recommendations with specific actions have been agreed, with a commitment to support on-going collaboration between the public sector and social enterprise sector on service delivery. 

The changes have occurred - a shift in culture

Public sector partners involved in the project are now increasingly ready to consider social enterprise solutions with greater confidence in the capacity of social enterprise to deliver public services. The Argyll and Bute Social Enterprise Network has greater confidence in the willingness of the public sector to engage with social enterprises to draw together skills, knowledge and expertise to find creative solutions to service delivery challenges.  There is also an awareness of the importance for an on-going capacity building, mediation and support role to support social enterprises to engage effectively with the public sector. 

Public sector partners involved in the project are now increasingly ready to consider social enterprise solutions with greater confidence in the capacity of social enterprise to deliver public services.

Whilst the project has focussed on examples from the Argyll and Bute context, the learning and evidence base are significant for social enterprise and public sector partners in a much broader context. The critical factors and recommendations have relevance for service delivery with the public sector across Scotland. 

Our full report is available at:

http://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/community-life-and-leisure/ablsi-report

Summary report:
http://www.absen.org.uk/documents/view.php?documentID=344

Ailsa Clark, is Chair ABSEN, and writes on behalf of the  ABLSI Steering group.

By Ailsa Clark, Chair, ABSEN

Issue 7: Nov 2013

Issue 7: Nov 2013

HEALTH, WELL BEING AND AGEING: SCOTLAND 2020

Re-energising the move towards integrated care

Scotland's move to integrated care can learn from elsewhere by focussing on two key differentiators between successful partnerships and those paying lip service to integrated working: Shared outcomes and common language is one, the other is demonstrating mutual investments and mutual benefits.

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