Earlier this year I wrote a weekly column outlining the council of the week, to highlight the great work Conservative councils are doing. This article aims to kick start a monthly update of the great work some of our councils are doing where they are really pushing boundaries. Really doing things differently, with partners from across the public services and shared management across the local government family. If you are doing innovating and transformational work then shout about it, and share the great best practice that Conservative Councils are doing all over the country.
Recently, I announced the successful bidders for the Transformation Challenge Award. This £6.9 million pot of money is a major step in the process of changing the system of funding for local authorities. It is only part of the transformation that is happening, we have the money for social care coming across from Health to join up care and with our Community Budget program and our transformation network we are seeing integration across public service providers to show not just huge savings but most importantly better outcomes and care for residents.
In the past, those councils who were performing poorly would be awarded a generous share of the central budget to help improve services. This often led to a race to the bottom. Councils would shy away from investment and innovation for fear of a funding cut when services improved, or simply had no incentive to improve. In fact the incentives were to perform badly, beg for more and a destructive downward cycle would ensue.
The Transformation Challenge Award continues the government determination to change all that. We have been clear about building a system that reward high performance and innovation, the business rates retention system being at the core of this. Grow your economy and you will have more funds.
With this award process money is awarded to the councils who have taken bold steps to better use taxpayers’ money and improve services. Councils such as Surrey and East Sussex County Councils who are sharing services and looking at how collaborate across the blue light services, or Bournemouth And Dorset with partners who are forging a partnership for healthcare, are being awarded extra funding to drive their reforms home and to innovate further.
I hope that this first round of funding from the Transformation Challenge Award will lead to a real change in the attitude of councils. Many local authorities, especially Conservative ones, have made a great deal of progress in recent years. We will be looking to develop this program further with the transformation network. A group of councils looking to fully transform how they provide services, with better cost efficiency and better results for residents.
It is time for all councils to share the same desire to improve and innovate, providing the best services for the best possible value to residents. I would like to congratulate those authorities who have been successful this time around – I look forward to seeing the new lengths that councils will go to over the coming year.