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March 10, 2020

Learning from local by default

Some years ago, a report was published by Locality that provided unequivocal evidence to back up what common sense has been telling us for years – that small scale, local providers of services will ultimately provide better quality, better value and better outcomes for the users of those services. The trick was to find the public bodies – mainly local authorities – who understood the concept and would commission services accordingly. It took a while but now a growing number (in England) are. Surely our cash strapped councils should, at the very least, give some thought to this.

Read full report here

Local authorities face a growing crisis, with deep cuts and rising demand. Over recent years, the dominant response has been to try and find savings by outsourcing services at scale.

But many local areas are now suffering from ‘scale fail’: poor quality services that don’t deliver the outcomes promised and don’t deal with people’s problems at source.

However, a growing number of local authorities have been doing things differently. They recognise the distinctive role that community organisations play both in the local service landscape and in the wider social fabric of their places. So rather than crowding them out with bureaucratic commissioning and standardised services, they are seeking to support and nurture them – by building partnerships, sharing power, and maximising local strengths.

This report provides new evidence and understanding of exactly what makes the work community organisations do in their local neighbourhoods unique. It shows the benefits that can be realised if local areas plug into this ‘power of community’ – not only providing high quality services for local people but also bringing communities together at a time of ongoing social division. And it highlights the trailblazer councils who are leading the way by Keeping it Local.

Through co-design with councils and communities, the Keep it Local principles guide policy and practice within local authorities.

Keep it Local Principles

  • Think about the whole system and not individual service silos.
  • Coordinate services at the neighbourhood level.
  • Increase local spend to invest in the local economy.
  • Focus on early intervention now to save costs tomorrow.
  • Commit to your community and proactively support local organisations.
  • Commission services simply and collaboratively so they are local by default.