Community hubs | Leeds City Council

This is the second case study in One Public Estate's 'Unlocking the value in public sector assets', published in 2017.


Region: North East, Yorkshire and Humber, East Midlands
Theme: Integrated Public Services

The challenge

Leeds OPE Partnership, led by the city council are developing a network of community hubs. This will enable public bodies in Leeds including the council, the police, NHS Property Services, the fire and rescue service and the ambulance service, to also change the nature of its work and to be in a better position to handle the changing nature of its face to face work and the increasingly complex issues affecting individuals and their families.

At a time when some councils are reducing or closing public facing services and one stop centres. Leeds wanted to try a different approach.

The impact of welfare reform, universal credit and the changing nature and make-up of local communities mean that flexible, locally based services, able to adapt to changing needs are essential if the council and public bodies in Leeds are to have a real and positive effect on citizens’ lives. Co-locating public bodies offers the opportunity to develop a joined up approach to the delivery of services, and improving the access and overall services for all users.

The vision

By using the community hub model, the partnership hopes to create a single, sustainable, ‘front of house team’ to provide the community hub workforce. This will bring together face-to-face customer services staff, library assistants, jobshop and community engagement officers and relevant housing colleagues. The vision is to continue to make a real difference for local communities, changing people’s lives and enabling the partnership to deliver more and better services at the same or lower cost.

Actions

The delivery of the community hubs has been split into multiple phases due to the scale of the programme and to accelerate delivery:

  • Phase 1 – five sites are now fully operational. Pop-up provisions were also introduced in locations such as GP surgeries/medical centres and supermarkets in order to provide better access to council services.
  • Phase 2 – 18 refurbishment schemes are currently underway or in the planning stage in a number of key locality buildings, mainly existing libraries and one stop centres in order to support the delivery of integrated, accessible and local services.
  • Phase 3 – This phase will look to extend the community hub approach across the city to 25+ sites. This will include housing offices, one-stop centres and libraries that have not been considered so far.
  • Additional opportunities – Expansion of the Bike Library through further funding provided by Welcome to Yorkshire and Yorkshire Bank. This facility is available at four sites already and funding has been secured to extend the facility to a further four sites.

Phase 2 and Phase 3 will also see the additional development of pop-up services and a mobile provision.

Outcomes

Through OPE support the operational community hubs have created real integration opportunities with a wide range of services and partners and are providing better outcomes for local people, including helping more people into work:

  • evidence from the operational community hubs identifies that there is considerable customer satisfaction both with being able to access services locally and retaining a valuable local resource

  • all the Community Hubs have seen an increase in residents using the buildings with one reporting a 95 per cent increase in use and a 31 per cent increase in the use of the enhanced ICT facilities that have been introduced in the schemes completed to date. In addition to the success on the ground, the partnership can also report the community hubs project as a great financial success as it has the potential to generate up to £3.3 million in capital receipts by 2020.

Next steps

OPE funding of the programme resource will continue to assist in the development and implementation of Phase 2 which will see the completion of a further 18 community hub sites.

The refurbishment and conversion works for the Phase 2 sites will include the provision of library areas, one-stop facilities, jobshops, private interview rooms, hotline phone access to council services, self service facilities, Wi-Fi, meeting rooms, social spaces, customer toilets and engaging waiting areas. A Queue and Appointment Management System will also be implemented to improve customer flow to enable fully integrated services to be delivered more efficiently to customers.

Programming of Phase 3 has begun which will see the creation of a further 25+ community hubs. The service will be further enhanced through the development of pop-up community hubs and the introduction of a mobile provision.

For further information please contact our Regional Programme Managers for North East, Yorkshire and Humber, East Midlands.