Keep it Local councils are moving away from bureaucratic commissioning and big outsourcing contracts following a series of high profile failures across the country. Instead they are choosing to unlock the power of community by commissioning local community organisations that put local people at the heart of the services they receive.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said:
“As an authority we are absolutely committed to setting the standard on keeping it local – in how we commission our services, in how we build power locally and how we support community capacity. But making these shifts is often easier said than done.
“There are huge challenges that aren’t getting any easier in the context of ongoing austerity. So we’re delighted to be part of a movement of like-minded Keep it Local councils, that can help us ‘occupy the rhetoric’ and create real change together.”
Alongside Bristol City Council 10 other councils from across the country are the first to sign up to the charity’s new national network committed to keeping local services in the hands of local community organisations. These are:
- Bradford Metropolitan District Council
- Calderdale Council
- Hackney Council
- Kirklees Council
- Lewisham Council
- Newcastle City Council
- Oldham Council
- Rotherham Council
- South Gloucestershire Council
- Wirral Council
Locality, who is working on this campaign in partnership with the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, is calling on other councils to sign up to the Keep it Local Network.
Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Toby Savage, said:
“We know that our voluntary, community and social enterprise sector has skills, expertise, creativity and fleetness of foot to act locally, which is why we already work with them, right up to the strategic level, as partners and equals.
“We want to build on and strengthen that relationship as we develop a new approach to providing services for local people and communities. We’re joining the Keep it Local Network because we know this is the beginning of a journey and recognise the power of learning from other councils in the Network as we make this shift.”
Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle Council, said:
“Supporting the Keep it Local principles has to be about a partnership between the voluntary and community sector and the local authority to make sure that the wealth we create and spend is kept in the local area. If we do this well, we will be creating sustainable, good quality jobs that pay a decent living wage and investing in the skills and capacity of the people of Newcastle.”
Bradford Metropolitan District Council is committing to increase its current level of local spend from 47% to 60% of total spend over the next five years, meaning an additional £45m into the local economy. Kirklees Council already spends £111m with Kirklees based suppliers, with 44% of Council spend with its top 300 suppliers (by value) being Kirklees based.
Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said:
“This isn’t about altruism, or working with local organisations because it’s a nice thing to do. We want to keep services local because we know it’s the best way to provide the best possible offer for our communities.”
Local community organisations have multiple advantages over large national organisations, including keeping public resources invested in the local economy and having in-depth local knowledge and connections built up over many years. This means they have a deep understanding of what local people need.
They intervene early and work collaboratively with other community organisations to create services that really work for people. By doing this, not only are councils having a transformative impact on individual lives, they have been shown to deliver savings for local authorities through prevention of demand for other public services.
Tony Armstrong, CEO of Locality, said:
“We’re thrilled to have these 11 trailblazers signed up to keep it local. Service delivery built on local partnership and the power of community delivers outstanding services for local people. Councils should see collaboration with these organisations as an investment, rather than a simple public spending decision.
“Not only do councils receive a distinctively high-quality service, but they are supporting and plugging into the power of a community network and generating additional social and economic value for their communities.”
Steve Sayers, CEO at Windmill Hill City Farm, said:
“It’s great to know that Bristol City Council is supporting the Keep it Local Network. Windmill Hill City Farm is rooted in its local community and its staff know the area and its people really well.
“It can be so difficult for smaller local organisations to compete against the big multinationals to win contracts, despite the extra value they bring. Seeing the local authority demonstrate in words and in actions that they want to keep their business local can only be good for the community here.”
The Keep it Local trailblazer councils have committed to the six Keep it Local principles, appointed champions in their cabinet and senior leadership team and have committed to working with Locality to assess and improve their current practice.
The six Keep it Local principles are:
- 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.
Locality is calling on councils to join the Keep it Local network and unlock the power in their community: building strong local partnerships, sharing power and maximising local strengths. More information on the steps councils need to take to join Locality’s Keep it Local campaign can be found here www.locality.org.uk/keepitlocal
Central government funding for local authorities has halved since 2010 and councils have been trying to find savings by outsourcing services at scale. Yet many local areas are now suffering from poor quality services that don’t deliver the outcomes promised and don’t deal with people’s problems at a local level. In November 2018, Capita paid Barnet Council £4.12m compensation for poor performance on outsourced services.
There is evidence that large scale contracts can be more costly in the long term with Somerset County Council paying £5.9m to settle a contract dispute with an outsourcing partnership and Bedfordshire County Council paying £7.7m to terminate a ‘deeply unsatisfactory’ outsourcing contract (1). The collapse of Carillion cost the public purse £148m (2).
Notes to editors
Quotes and case studies from other Keep it Local councils and local community projects are available.
(1) White A and Belgrave, K (2013) ‘Nine spectacular council outsourcing failures’, New Statesman, Available at: https://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2013/08/nine-spectacular-council-outsourcing-failures
(2) National Audit Office (2018), Investigation into the government’s handling of the collapse of Carillion, Available at: https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Investigation-into-the-governments-handling-of-the-collapse-of-Carillion.pdf
Locality is the leading membership charity that exists to unlock the power in local communities to build a fairer society. Locality supports community organisations to be strong and successful through hands-on advice, peer-learning and resources, and uses evidence from members to influence government and funders. Locality are hundreds of community organisations, at the heart of communities, bringing people together to transform lives. www.locality.org.uk
About Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales
Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales partners with small and local charities who help people overcome complex social issues. During 2019, the Foundation distributed £25.7 million through new and existing grants, supporting more than 900 charities which helped 150,000 people experiencing disadvantage.
Through long-term funding, developmental support and influencing policy and practice, the Foundation helps those charities make life-changing impact. The Foundation is an independent charitable trust funded by the profits of Lloyds Banking Group as part of their commitment to Helping Britain Prosper.
For more information visit www.lloydsbankfoundation.org.uk