We’ve been supporting Local Authorities to integrate public services since 2013. Our aim is to bring together the previously disparate worlds of welfare to work; Local Authority targeted services; FE/skills; and health services to better meet the needs of residents facing multiple and complex barriers to work.

The principles are simple and well-rehearsed.

By bringing different parties together to jointly problem solve at a place level, we should be better able to sequence the right support, in the right order (it’s almost impossible to get someone into work if they’re in severe debt, at risk of losing their house, and have anxiety issues). We’re also looking to design a service that it is more cost effective, and doesn’t just leave the problem solving to one provider in isolation.

Local Authorities should be the best placed body to bring other organisations together and coordinate them locally – helping to bridge the divide (mistrust?) between different providers and stakeholders. But, as we work with both City Regions and Local Authorities, the rhetoric is easy to say, but rather more difficult to implement at scale.

Our reflections on the critical success factors needed to deliver successful integration:

  1. Strong local leadership – with the drive and personal characteristics to bring partners together
  2. Start small and operational and secure some quick wins – don’t go down the grand goverance route… instead create the conditions for local operational leads to make a difference
  3. Don’t underestimate how long it takes for each sector/provider to understand the issues and challenges faced by residents with complex needs
  4. Get the balance right between operational and strategic – so that recurrent issues/challenges are escalated and addressed (access to mental health services is the current priority across a number of local authorities)

We’re very happy to share further thoughts with any organisations looking to develop an integrated service for their residents.