Wales needs reinvention of local services, not just reorganisation
Today’s Williams Commission report into the structure of local government recommends large-scale council mergers, with the number of local authorities in Wales set to halve. The way the report has been received gives a real sense that things are going to happen, and happen (relatively) soon.
it’s also about citizen participation and community ownership of services. The report touches on this:
“This approach starts with what people receiving services would find most helpful to secure the real outcomes they want. It means re-shaping services based on better community or service user insight. It embraces co-production of service design, commissioning and delivery and a strong emphasis on shifting to prevention and making the most of community capacity and assets. These are all, to varying degrees, underpinned by the principle of establishing a different relationship between public sector organisations and the people and organisations they serve.”
You could be forgiven for thinking that Sir Paul Williams was writing about the benefits of some local services being delivered as social businesses. Services may perhaps be commissioned by the council but could be provided by community owned social enterprises, accountable to users in a more direct and meaningful way than through occasional trips to the ballot box.
Councils are already exploring social enterprise structures to deliver services from leisure centres to youth work. Wales would be missing a trick if our response to the Williams Commission report focused on which town County Hall should be based in. Instead, we have the chance to review not only local democratic structures but the very relationship between citizens and services.
Social enterprise is the solution that does not just reorganise, it reinvents.
Dave Brown is Director of Strategic Development and Performance at the Wales Co-operative Centre.
Written by Dave Brown
January 20, 2014 at 2:53 pm
Posted in social enterprise