Case studies | #CouncilsCan

Case studies referenced in the LGA's 2019 Annual Conference publication, Councils Can. 

Wigan health and wellbeing (HWB) board

“Wigan HWB is supporting the local health and social care system to develop integrated, safe and high-quality services. We champion local services taking a holistic and asset-based approach to supporting residents, collectively tackling the wider determinants of health. Taking a combined approach, with a political and clinical lead as joint chairs, means that we are connected closely with the needs of our residents and patients, and can bring other politicians and clinicians from across the local NHS with us on our journey.”

Dr Tim Dalton, Local GP chair of NHS Wigan Borough CCG and Joint Chair of Wigan HWB

 Local integration is taking place in the context of the locality plan ‘Further, Faster’ and ‘The Deal 2030’ – Wigan’s ambitious plan for the borough.

The HWB is an influential part of the system in which leaders set the strategic framework for health, care and wellbeing; agree population health outcomes; oversee progress on major developments; and keep a focus on the delivery of the locality plan. They oversee a comprehensive approach to improving population health by tackling the wider determinants. It has seen positive improvements in outcomes, including: number of adults physically active, smoking rates, hospital stays for alcohol related harm, teenage pregnancy rates, and early deaths attributable to CVD and to cancers.

Under the direction of the HWB, significant transformation has taken place in commissioning and provision. Wigan is taking its joint commissioning arrangements to a new level by bringing together health and care budgets in a section 75 pooled and aligned budget arrangement extended out to housing and leisure. This effectively creates a single public sector purse for the borough and the potential for more efficient use of resources.

Bristol Early Years

To support children with their transition from nursery to school, to develop confident learners and to support families, Bristol City Council has embedded it children’s centres firmly within the early education framework, with all 22 centres based on school sites.

The strong link with education provides strong pedagogical leadership along with economies of scale in terms of leadership and management costs. It also means that the city’s most marginalised families are more likely to consider early education for their children when they see this as part of a safe and welcoming children’s centre offer. Almost 25,000 families with under-fives are registered with the children’s centres. Eighty-two per cent of families participate in children’s centre services, rising to 87 per cent in areas of greatest need. These figures have risen in recent years.

The children’s centres play a key role in quality improvement across Bristol’s early years sector. Each centre has a lead teacher who monitors the quality of provision in schools and settings in their reach area and reports back to the council, highlighting strengths and identifying any need for additional support, as part of a structured conversation. 

Profile data and Ofsted data are used to evidence service impact. Outcomes are improving at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage: 69 per cent of children achieved a good level of development in 2018, up 1.3 per cent this year. The gap between those in the 30 per cent most disadvantaged areas and their peers has narrowed by five per cent in four years, to 13 per cent.

Sally Jaeckle, Head of Early Years Services, Bristol City Council

Surrey Youth Justice

The Surrey Family Service, in partnership with Care Services and Surrey Police, has developed an integrated approach that has achieved year-on-year reductions in the numbers of children in care coming into the criminal justice system.

An inter-agency protocol between key partners outlines a set of principles for all agencies to work to, and provides options around how best to work with young people to avoid unnecessary criminalisation and to support behaviour change. Training for all police staff led by care leavers (Total Respect) has helped improve police understanding of some of the issues faced by young people in care.

Embedding restorative practice has led to a greater understanding of young people’s behaviour and a subsequent culture change which has reduced reliance on more traditional sanction-based methods of behaviour management. Instead, staff have learned to respond to challenging behaviour with a more relational and restorative approach, seeing ‘transgressions’ on the part of children as opportunities for learning and development of self-discipline, rather than relying on imposed discipline which is all too often ineffective.

Care staff are better equipped to manage difficult behaviour and their care, dedication and applied restorative practice has not only seen reductions in offending but a more than 50 per cent reduction in use of restraints, and other indicators that the children’s homes are safer, healthier and happier places for children and staff to live and work.

The local desire to support children in care led to changes meaning that all but the most serious of offences committed by children in care are now dealt with informally and not in the courts. A Joint Decision Making Panel comprising officers from Surrey Police and the Surrey Family Service considers most offences by young people, with the most common outcome being a Youth Restorative Intervention (YRI). This involves engagement with victim(s) so that their needs can be considered and met wherever possible. The approach is based on the premise that children should be supported both to take responsibility and to try to put things right.

The change in approach would not have been possible without a high-level commitment from all agencies involved, with a determination to collaborate more effectively and improve outcomes for children in care.

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Hertfordshire Waste Partnership

The Hertfordshire Waste Partnership brings together 10 district councils and the county council with a jointly funded partnership unit. Partnership working has extended beyond the original focus on waste and recycling services to joint action to tackle fly tipping, bringing in partners from outside the councils. Fly tipping has reduced by 18% and the Hertfordshire partnership have been helping other councils to roll out the “lets S.C.R.A.P” fly tipping campaign. It has been adopted by 46 local authorities with another 64 due to implement and 55 interested across the UK.

South London Waste Partnership

Introducing a harmonised recycling and refuse collection service to one million residents across four south London boroughs was always going to be challenging. But by pooling their resources and expertise, Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton councils have achieved just that through the South London Waste Partnership.

It’s taken three-years and a phased approach to implementation, but on 1 April 2019 Kingston became the last of the four boroughs to join the new Environmental Services Contract. The contract was awarded to Veolia in 2017 and covers household waste collections, street cleansing, winter maintenance, fleet management, commercial waste and recyclate material sales.

It may be early days but the contract is already delivering tens of millions of pounds in savings. Meanwhile the new collection service (which features weekly food waste, twin-stream recycling and fortnightly refuse) is helping the boroughs increase their recycling rates. In 2017/18 each resident, on average, produced 12kg less waste than they had the previous year and the average recycling rate across the four boroughs increased by four percentage points to 43.1%. Much of this was thanks to a huge surge in recycling in Sutton (the first borough to go live with the new collection service in April 2017), where the recycling rate increased by 13.5 percentage points from 36.5% to 50%.

Teignbridge District Council

Teignbridge is a semi-rural district council in Devon of around 57,000 households. Although not an area with a huge homelessness problem, historically a high proportion of households who were accepted as homeless were placed in B&Bs, due to lack of other provision.

Teignbridge has developed a number of strategies to tackle homelessness better, including:

1. Conversion of a former GP’s surgery into a well-managed hostel

Albany House is a new purpose converted GP’s surgery in the centre of Newton Abbot which houses both homeless families and single people in a calm and well managed environment. It is significantly higher quality than B&B, provides tailored support to the households living there, and is financially advantageous to the council.

Homeless households typically stay in Albany House for less than three months, where their needs are assessed and help provided.

2. Initiatives to access private rented sector property for homelessness prevention

Plymouth Access to Housing (PATH) have been working with Teignbridge for around seven years and have built up a portfolio of 100 properties in the area, which contributes to Teignbridge’s annual figure of between 250 and 300 homelessness preventions into the PRS – the rest being obtained by housing options officers and through a self-help scheme, which supports people who find their own properties.

In addition to the PATH scheme, Teignbridge reaches out to landlords directly through well attended landlord evenings, social media, emails etc. Part of the service provided is to keep landlords informed of changes to relevant legislation.

3. Work with Young Devon on youth homelessness

Voluntary sector organisation, Young Devon, have worked with Teignbridge Council to provide an enhanced service to young homeless people. They have established a multi-agency Youth Enquiry Service in Newton Abbot, which sees at least 100 young people a year with housing issues and doubles as a crash pad providing accommodation with 24 hour cover to up to five young people. Joint assessments are carried out by Young Devon and children’s services, and work is done with young people leaving care to ensure that they do not become homeless.

4. Joint working and co-location

Teignbridge’s housing needs service is jointly managed with Exeter, which among other things allows pooling of resources, such as temporary accommodation, when needed. A number of different services are co-located with the service, including the PATH PRS access scheme, and Jobcentre Plus in the near future.

Contact: Nicola Forsdyke, Teignbridge District Council.

Nuneaton Borough Council - Innovation in council housebuilding

Nuneaton Borough Council is committed to an ongoing programme of new council housebuilding and the purchase and acquisition of existing stock. The size of the programme is relatively small but helps address two key issues – the lack of affordable housing and tackling the homelessness crisis.

The council is the major provider of affordable housing with a stock of nearly 5,800 properties and, in addition, there are 450 leasehold units. Housing associations have 2,400 units in the area.

The council continues to experience high levels of need for affordable housing. It estimates that there is an annual shortfall of over 500 affordable homes. This has been exacerbated by an increase in the number of homelessness presentations, which is putting pressure on the general fund, and the loss of 125 properties through right to buy (RTB) in the three years to 2016/17.

Funding and viability
Projects are currently funded through a mix of sources including:
• HRA headroom funding
• rental streams – new build council properties are let at affordable rents,  80 per cent of market rents
• Homes England grants, though these have reduced in size in recent years
• RTB receipts. 

Since 2016, there has also been a policy to use planning agreements to acquire new properties and to make use of commuted sums. 

The quality of new council housing is a significant consideration. This is because there are concerns among councillors about the size and space standards of some new private sector properties. Council properties are, therefore, built to (i) design standards set out in planning policies and (ii) wherever possible and subject to viability requirements, higher standards in terms of, for example, build quality, parking provision and garden size. 

The uncertain national policy framework is a major consideration in both the short and long-term. Factors include:
• potential impact of selling high-value voids to help fund voluntary RTB for housing association tenants – the Midlands is a pilot area from summer 2018
• roll-out of universal credit and its impact on rent arrears
• rent policy post-2025 
• the Social Housing Green Paper.

At a local level, balancing different policy objectives is an important issue. A potential site may initially be earmarked for new council housebuilding, but in order to meet the requirements of the sustainable communities policy there may be a need to develop a mixed tenure approach (such as incorporating shared ownership properties). A further consideration is likely to be value for money.

Moving forward
A HRA development and acquisition strategy was approved in late 2017. It highlights that the council will evaluate each potential project to ensure that it delivers good quality accommodation and value for money. The projects will include both purchase of existing stock and new build.

In relation to the former, further work is being undertaken on the advantages and disadvantages of the acquisition of existing properties. A number of ‘acquisition routes’ are being investigated, including properties that previously were subject to RTB and housing association stock that is being disposed of for asset management reasons. The advantages include avoiding a lengthy development process and responding more quickly and effectively to the growing homelessness crisis. However, possible disadvantages include modernisation/repair costs and the quality/standard of some potential properties in the private sector.

In relation to the latter, the council is keen to embrace new construction methods, especially modern methods of construction (MMC). Three infill sites have been identified and a local partner with experience of MMC is involved. The focus is on off-site production with the added value elements of high-quality design, energy efficiency and supporting the local economy.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Rochford Borough Council – Joint planning across boundaries to deliver regional infrastructure

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has a track record of collaborative working. One example of this is the Joint Area Action Plan for Southend Airport and its Environs (JAAP).

The joint area action plan was a result of partnership working between the Southend Council planning team and neighbouring Rochford Borough Council (with input from Essex County Council) and was adopted in December 2014.

Adopting a partnership approach to the development of a key regeneration area has acted as a catalyst for economic growth within the sub-region.

The JAAP which provides for the planned development of Southend Airport and its surrounding area is one of the most significant projects for Southend Council for many years and for the future of the borough.

Since its adoption it has opened opportunities to provide housing, jobs and infrastructure that will support the future development of the town. It was instrumental in securing a share of the £35.6 million awarded from the Local Growth Fund to Southend/Essex County Council for capacity enhancements on the A127 and infrastructure to support Southend’s growth.

Key outcomes:

•    The project addresses the needs of the growing London Southend Airport, providing high quality employment development. 
•    The project provides an integrated solution to sustainable transport infrastructure. 
•    New areas of green space, landscaping and public realm have been created.
•    Approximately 7,200 jobs will be delivered via a planned low carbon business park, high tech medical campus and aviation related businesses. 
•    Sharing costs and resources has resulted in savings for Rochford and Southend Councils. 
•    Pooling of expertise from three authorities and joint working committees of officers and members has resulted in significant efficiencies. 
•    Delivery of infrastructure scheme is underway, with a focus on ensuring the necessary support for investment from the private sector. 

The greatest attribute of the service in Southend is that it combines strategic planning, development management, building control and enforcement working altogether alongside colleagues in highways, transport planning, cycling and engineering teams to cover the full spectrum of the development process.

Peter Geraghty, Director for Planning and Transport, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council