Collaboration? It's simple really

22 Jun 15

To tie-in with this year’s conference theme, CIPFA is offering practical help in aligning local public services

Greater collaboration may hold the key to the future for public services in an era of diminishing resources. Aligning Local Public Services is the timely theme of this year’s CIPFA conference. In the run-up, the institute is launching tools and guides to help finance practitioners maximise the potential for working collaboratively in their local areas.

A CIPFA Keystones guide, Aligning Local Public Services, will dissect the policy environment and show how practitioners can shape the agenda.
Significantly, the guide will embrace the complex delivery landscape of public, private and voluntary providers. While local authorities deliver the widest range of local services, and are best placed to initiate collaborative working, success requires understanding that what we all do separately impacts on other parts of the public sector and beyond. Breaking down organisational barriers by applying innovative, radical or simply commonsense thinking can deliver results. Case studies from across the United Kingdom will show what has already been achieved.

Behind this policy document will sit the Aligning Local Public Service Framework – both a reference guide to good practice and a diagnostic tool based on the CIPFA Financial Management Model. Typically it will be used by local authorities, but all organisations can evaluate how well they are doing in pursuit of collaborative working.

The framework’s target audience will be top decision makers and advisers, since it tackles the organisation-wide themes of securing stewardship, supporting performance and enabling transformation. It then drills down so that organisations can identify barriers to collaboration.

Effective decision-making has to be underpinned by relevant and sound financial data. For this purpose, CIPFA is developing an easy-to-use spreadsheet,
available on the institute’s website, that will enable local authorities and their partners to use imported shared data to produce reports in a variety of formats.

Local authorities will need this consolidated data to map spending against the policy objectives of collaborating organisations and community priorities. In this way the tool will reveal the scope for aligning policy and service objectives; streamlining policy and service objectives that are common to different partners; and aligning the delivery approach where partners have differing approaches to the same customer groups.

Even in the electronic age, the delivery of public services is supported by a property asset base. Rationalising and sharing assets is an element of initiatives to promote collaboration and more integrated services.

As part of the Aligning Local Public Services initiative, CIPFA is relaunching its work on place-based asset management. Sharing data and asset mapping will enable local delivery partners to evaluate whether collaboration would be of benefit by, for example, improving access and cutting carbon emissions.

The common themes of the Aligning Local Public Services agenda are: the importance of getting governance right from the outset; being clear on accountability; the ability to map total spend in any given area; the importance of leadership; and engaging the public to ensure decisions are made by local people, in and for the good of the local area. All these will be picked up at the CIFPA conference. 

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