By Mark Rogers and Valerie Pearce
We all know that local public services face the most complex and challenging times in their history. Demand for services continues to grow, the financial position continues to tighten, and the legislative burden continues to expand. At the same time, we also have to cope with wider changes such as the ongoing impact of welfare reform, health and social care integration, homelessness, ‘Brexit’, devolution, climate change, and an uncertain political climate, to name just a few.
And we know our strengths: we’ve coped, we have set balanced budgets, grown local economies, improved health and crime outcomes, and, in the main continued to deliver strong services. More than that, we have far greater aspirations – to move away from silo-based working and an annual cycle of salami slicing, or, worse, squeezing more blood from the stone.
Colleagues will share our aspirations to work together across the wider system of public services, focusing on a bold ambition for strong, safe, healthy and resilient communities; flourishing economies; and vibrant cities, towns and villages. This sort of change requires major and systemic transformation, it isn’t about picking off low hanging fruit and tackling the easy to fix problems. It is about embracing complexity, considering all the assets and strengths that exist, building on success wherever it exists band addressing root causes to ultimately to reduce the need for local public services.
At the Public Service Transformation Academy, this is the sort of change and transformation we are passionate about, and which we think is vital for public services to continue to operate within rapidly changing times. We are uniquely placed to draw together a map of the landscape with powerful voices who can draw attention to the patterns and possibilities. We could still be having the same conversations about transformation in ten years’ time, or we could find the difference that makes the difference now.
So we’re launching the Public Service: State of Transformation report and process to separate out the ‘wheat’ of real stuff that works and we can get behind and use from the ‘chaff’ of case studies, marketing, and received but failed orthodoxy. To participate, complete this mini survey https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/stateoftransformation
The PSTA delivers the Cabinet Office Commissioning Academy (under a concession contract – a great example of commissioning filling a central government funding gap!), which has now developed the thinking and expertise of 1,700 cross-silo public service commissioners in five years in the Cabinet Office and 18 months in the PSTA. This is the ‘jewel in the crown’ offer, but as a social enterprise dedicated to supporting public services to drive their own transformation, other offers range from the blended learning Leading Transformation course, to support to system and area-based leadership, and the savings and change-focused Service Transformation Programme training, support to digital leadership and the likes of #oneteamgov and #localgovcamp.
As a partnership of businesses (public service consultancy RedQuadrant is the lead member), charities (White & Industry Group is main delivery partners), representatives bodies and social enterprises, the not-for-profit PSTA has no particular axe to grind and seeks to support SOLACE, central government, and all other bodies working together to make public services effective, transformational, and to help us provide better leadership and better experience of public services for citizens and employees. Ultimately, we believe that our job is to do ourselves out of a job by creating real capability across public services.