History tells us that things will improve. Macro-economic challenges will lessen, advances in technology will offer hope (but may create new issues of their own), and demographic pressures will change. But right now, the complex and challenging nature of delivering public services at a local level has never been under more pressure.

Rising inflation and increasing costs of energy, foods and other products are fuelling significant increases in the cost of delivering public services, and constantly evolving demographic pressures are creating further budgetary and social challenges that will not be solved by local government alone.

But history offers another insight that is sometimes overlooked when, understandably, the primary focus has to remain on service delivery during such tough times. Public service integration – collaboration between different services within local government and with external partners across other sectors – can make a very real and significant difference.

Integration can be that ecosystem of delivery – where innovations in technology are complemented by shared learning and practice across organisations, with actors adopting relational rather than contractual mindsets. It will mean the role of the public sector worker, local authorities, and their private and not-for-profit sector partners, will need to change if regions are to be successful in providing meaningful support for their communities. But get this right and strategic partnering will support the long-term provision of services where the emphasis is clearly on the needs and outcomes of residents and communities.

Integration is also a clear recommendation coming from our Level Measures report (written by Localis in partnership with Capita); a significant research programme that provides invaluable insight and understanding for some of the most complex challenges affecting our communities and shines a light on how they are being solved.
The relationship between public, third and private sectors has never been more important, and Level Measures reinforces how the whole eco-system of public services needs to work closer than ever to lead and define what levelling up means at the local level. There is no value in paying lip service to the lessons from history. It is now time to really take note and respond to such insight.

This article was first published in the MJ

Written by

Andrew Foster

Andrew Foster

Strategic Partnerships Director, Capita Local Public Services

A Chartered Trading Standards Practitioner by background, Andy has spent the last three decades working across Local Government, Central Government and third sector organisations specialising in solution design and professional services.

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