LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM
Circular No LG 25/2013 DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT LOCAL GOVERNMENT POLICY DIVISION OCTOBER 2013 LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM GUIDANCE TO COUNCILS: COMMUNITY PLANNING FOUNDATION PROGRAMME
GUIDANCE - COMMUNITY PLANNING FOUNDATION PROGRAMME Background This circular is intended to assist statutory transition committees and the incoming councils during the shadow period in their preparations for the introduction of the duty of community planning in April 2015.
It is the fifth in a series of Statutory Transition Committee guidance. The circular is non-statutory guidance and comprises: • an introduction to the concept of community planning; • the proposed legislative framework to be introduced in 2015; • key principles, processes and recommended steps; and • community planning case studies.
Statutory Transition Committees should use this guidance to start the preparatory work required prior to April 2015 so that new councils are able to fulfill their statutory duty to initiate community planning and produce a community plan.
Northern Ireland Community Planning Foundation Programme Preparations in Advance of 2015 Version 1 October 2013
Contents: Executive Summary i Introduction: • Local Government Reform 1 • What is Community Planning? 1 • Local Government Bill – Community Planning Legislation 2 • Community Planning – Context and Reality 3 • Purpose of the Foundation Programme 4 Community Planning Foundation Programme 6 1.
Getting Started – The Foundation Framework 6 2. Community Planning and the Community Plan – “The Basics” 8 3. Key Principles 11 4. Key Supports 15 5. Key Processes and Recommended Steps 18 6. Delivering the Building Blocks of Community Planning 26 Key Links: 28 • Pilots and Capacity Building 28 • Shaping Place: Links to Planning and Regeneration 29 • Alignment with Regional Initiatives and Strategies 29 • Performance 30 • Development of Statutory Guidance 31 • Evaluation and Support 31 Appendix 1: Summary of Key Steps 33 Appendix 2: How the Foundation Programme was Developed 35 Annex: Community Planning Case Studies 39
i Executive Summary 1. The Community Planning Foundation Programme has been developed as part of the preparations for the reform of local government. It is intended to help both Statutory Transition Committees, the new councils and their community planning partners to prepare for community planning in advance of the introduction of the statutory community planning duty in April 2015. 2. Community planning is: a process led by councils in conjunction with partners and communities to develop and implement a shared vision for their area, a long term vision which relates to all aspects of community life and which also involves working together to plan and deliver better services which make a real difference to people's lives.
INTRODUCTION 3. This provides a brief context for community planning within local government reform. It describes what community planning is, key aspects of the process, and the potential challenges and benefits it brings. The framework within which community planning will operate is outlined, including the legislation contained in the Local Government Bill. The purpose of the Foundation Programme and how it will support Statutory Transition Committees and the incoming councils in making preparations for community planning is also described.
COMMUNITY PLANNING FOUNDATION PROGRAMME 4.
The Community Planning Foundation Programme is split into 6 sections: Getting Started – The Foundation Framework 5. This provides a diagrammatic explanation of the outcomes, processes, frameworks and key principles that will inter-relate and influence the community planning process and community plan. Community Planning and the Community Plan – “The Basics” 6. This section describes of the importance of the formulation of a vision and identification of outcomes, and some of the critical factors in creating a community plan for an area.
Key Principles 7. The underlying principles that will be necessary for community planning to work are identified as: Civic and Community Leadership, A Focus on Outcomes, Partnership Working, Participation and Engagement, Transparency and Openness, Equality and Diversity, and People Centered Delivery. Key Supports 8. The key supports that are needed for community planning to work are identified as: Good Governance and Clear Accountability (for decision making and delivery),
ii Evidence and Learning – Information Gathering and Sharing, Communication, Community Development, and Resources.
Key Processes and Recommended Steps 9. Recommended steps to put in place the building blocks for community planning are identified under the following headings: Alignment and Scope, Culture Change and Capacity Building, Governance and Structure which includes partnership and engagement, and Performance and Accountability. DELIVERING THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF COMMUNITY PLANNING 10.The focus of activity is divided into 3 phases. Phases 1 and 2 relate to putting building blocks in place ahead of April 2015, and recommends that Statutory Transition Committees develop a project plan to take forward the preparatory work for community planning.
KEY LINKS 11.The key links relate to pilots and capacity building, and describe how the community planning process will inter-relate with planning and regeneration, regional initiatives and strategies, and performance indicators. Learning from the roll-out of the Foundation Programme will assist in the development of statutory guidance. There will be ongoing evaluation and support for the roll-out of the Foundation Programme. APPENDIX 1 12.This contains a summary of the key processes and recommended steps to prepare for the community planning duty.
APPENDIX 2 13.This describes how the Foundation Programme was developed.
ANNEX OF COMMUNITY PLANNING CASE STUDIES 14.This contains case studies from across the island of Ireland, and background information on Scotland and Wales.
1 Community Planning Foundation Programme Introduction Local Government Reform 1. Underpinning the reform of local government is the Executive’s vision of: “…a strong, dynamic local government creating communities that are vibrant, healthy, prosperous, safe, sustainable and have the needs of all citizens at their core.” Central to the Executive’s vision for the local government sector is the provision of high quality, efficient services that respond to the needs of people and continuously improve over time. Critical to the delivery of this objective will be an effective, statute- based community planning process led and facilitated by the new councils.
What is Community Planning?
2. Community planning is “a process led by councils in conjunction with partners and communities to develop and implement a shared vision for their area, a long term vision which relates to all aspects of community life and which also involves working together to plan and deliver better services which make a real difference to people's lives”. 3. This requires understanding and responding to the long-term needs of local people and communities and delivering better outcomes for the area. The Community Plan will contain a shared vision and agreed outcomes, and will also identify and assign the key tasks necessary to deliver and achieve the vision and outcomes, including monitoring progress and assigning responsibility for delivery.
4. Councils will have a statutory responsibility to lead community planning. Elected members will have an important role in the process, working with the council’s partners to involve local people and communities in the development of the shared vision and its subsequent delivery. 5. A community planning partnership will provide leadership to the process. The council will identify the organisations, central government departments and agencies operating in their area that they will need to help them plan and provide services for their citizens, and contribute to achieving the Executive’s regional objectives.
The process of building relationships between the various sectors and people involved will be an important factor in the success of community planning.
2 6. The evidence base will provide a baseline upon which decisions can be made and against which progress can be monitored. Quantitative and qualitative information gathered will include census information, progress reports on existing plans, strategies and on service delivery improvements, and survey information. A solid, reliable evidence base will help the organisations and people involved commit to action. 7. Community participation in the community planning process should be open and inclusive, and methods of engagement and consultation should be used that are most appropriate to a particular council’s circumstances.
Effective public consultation and engagement will help ensure that the views of the whole community will be taken into account in decision making. 8. The content of the Community Plan, and the challenges it sets out to tackle, will vary considerably from one council area to another. These differences will partly relate to the fact that they are different places, with different problems and possibilities. They will also relate to the different choices and preferences which councils and their communities make about the future of their area. 9. In practice, councils and their partners may find that it is a long term and evolving process, and there will be challenges along the way in seeking to achieve effective partnerships and agreeing and implementing shared objectives and outcomes.
10. Community planning can bring benefits in terms of easier to access, better integrated, local services; more effective collaboration across the public sector; better use of public resources; higher standards of public service; and willingness to innovate and learn from others. Organisations can gain a shared understanding of local issues and they can work together to deliver solutions without duplication. Sharing information between partners to build a reliable evidence base can assist in finding solutions.
Local Government Bill – Community Planning Legislation 11. The Local Government Bill will introduce the legislative provisions to make community planning a statutory process.
The legislation will place a duty on local councils to initiate, maintain, facilitate and participate in the process, and on partners (which can be specified by way of subordinate legislation) to participate in and support community planning. Government departments will be required to promote and encourage community planning in exercising their functions. Community involvement will be included in the legislation to ensure that they have their say in the process. The legislation will take effect in April 2015.
3 12. Plans will be reviewed at least every four years. Each plan will include objectives and actions to achieve these. The council and its partners will monitor progress in meeting the objectives and the effectiveness of the actions, and are likely to be required to publish a statement on this every two years. The first community plans are expected as soon as possible after there is consensus between the partners on the objectives and actions. 13. The legislation will also introduce a statutory link between community planning and the local development plan to ensure an effective inter-relationship between the two processes.
Community Planning – Context and Reality 14. The context for community planning in Northern Ireland is impacted by 2 main factors: a. the wider programme of local government reform resulting in the number of councils reducing from 26 to 11 and transfer of powers from central to local government; and b. the unique characteristics of each local area. 15. Local government reform - it is important to recognise that the changes to local government that are being taken forward are far greater than has been the case elsewhere in the United Kingdom. The changes involve rationalising the number of councils, transferring services and powers from central government departments to local government, and providing the new councils with the statutory duty to lead the community planning process.
This is in contrast to the introduction of the community planning duty in England, Wales and Scotland. There the councils are much larger than in Northern Ireland and already had a greater range of services and powers. Therefore the extent of the planned changes in Northern Ireland represents a considerable challenge. The local context - each council area will have its own unique characteristics, and the extent of the diversity within each area will present a challenge to the new councils in ensuring that they take on board the aspirations of different sections of the community. Councils will need to consider how to reach out to their urban and rural communities , bring together the resources to enable them to work together effectively amongst the other pressures and demands on them, and engage with community organisations which may not have the capacity to contribute to the community planning process as fully as they would wish.
4 Purpose of the Foundation Programme 16. The Community Planning Foundation Programme has been developed to support local government reform in Northern Ireland (see Appendix 2 for the background). It is intended to help councils and their community planning partners establish the foundations of an effective and efficient community planning process in advance of the introduction of the statutory duty. The programme is not mandatory but it is important that all 11 Statutory Transition Committees, and subsequently the incoming councils during the shadow period, make progress against the steps identified in this document.
They will then be in a stronger position to take forward the community planning duty when it comes into force.
17. The Foundation Programme sets out the recommended steps that the Statutory Transition Committees (STCs) and the incoming councils during the shadow period should take forward to put in place the building blocks for community planning ahead of the statutory duty. The Programme does not seek to implement a full community planning process – that will be led by the new councils, and underpinned by the statutory duty. In summary, the approach is: Responsibility Focus of Activity Phase 1: 2013-14 Statutory Transition Committees Understanding the new council area and building the foundations for community planning: building awareness & capacity, auditing and mapping to inform process Phase 2: 2014-15 Incoming councils during the shadow period Developing and negotiating the local approach to community planning: defining outcomes and agreeing the processes and structures to support community planning Phase 3: 2015 onwards New Councils Delivering and implementing community planning: Agreeing the vision, considering the links between the Community Plan and Local Development Plan; delivering outcomes and monitoring performance.
18. Guidance for Phase 1 and 2 are contained in this document. Statutory guidance will be developed to assist new councils with implementing Phase 3, the full community planning process, when they receive the statutory duty in April 2015. 19. The Foundation Programme aims to support an outcomes and people focused approach from the outset and help ensure effective accountability and performance management arrangements. The guidance in this document will assist the STCs and the incoming councils during the shadow period to:
5 • identify appropriate models for an efficient and effective community planning process and begin to build relationships and address capacity issues/needs; • consider appropriate mechanisms to facilitate community engagement; • identify the data and analysis necessary to support community planning; • consider the resource requirements to support the operation and effective delivery of community planning; • consider how the related transferring functions of development planning and regeneration and other initiatives across government can best be integrated into the community planning process; and • build on existing good practice.
20. The Foundation Programme has been developed by the Pilots and Community Planning Working Group, with central and local government officials working collaboratively. It is intended that the experiences of the STCs and incoming councils during the shadow period in putting in place the community planning building blocks, will also help to shape and inform the guidance that will be issued to support the full introduction of community planning on issues such as: (1) Creating a plan for the new council area; (2) Partnerships and shared working; (3) Memberships and engagement; (4) Identification of appropriate governance structures; (5) Creating performance measurement and accountability; and (6) Linkages between local and central structures.
21. Further guidance may be issued to augment this Foundation Programme as the local government reform programme progresses.
6 Community Planning Foundation Programme 1. Getting Started - The Foundation Framework 1. To help make the process of preparing for community planning more straightforward, the process has been broken into the following component parts: • Community planning and the Community Plan – “The Basics” • Key Principles • Key Supports • Key Processes • Summary of Recommended Steps 2. A diagram that sets the key elements of the Foundation Programme into their wider context is set out on the following page.
7 The Community Planning Foundation Framework
Community Planning and the Community Plan - “The Basics” Vision and Outcomes 3. Community planning is not merely the process of collating a number of existing plans and practices but rather formulating a deliverable vision for a council area. It is a major undertaking and involves integrating all the various streams of public life, weaving these together and producing a statement of the future direction of the new council area. The community planning process will also inform the development of a council’s local development plan which will give effect to the spatial aspects of the community plan.
4. The community planning process should achieve: • a rigorous analysis of existing conditions in the new council area; • an integrated view of the social, economic and environmental needs of the new council area in the context of regional, national and European policies and strategies; • a long term vision for the future; • a clear focus on tackling current reality in ways to achieve the long term vision; and • a set of outcomes which can be monitored and measured. 5. The most successful examples of community planning are premised on robust and vigorous analyses based on sound data and information frameworks.
The community plan then seeks to use the information to determine and agree how the current situation can be improved for the benefit of all people in the new council area. The plan should be long term in nature and focus on the desired outcomes for the new area.
6. By creating a joint partnership focus on outcomes for an area, community planning has the potential to assist with greater alignment between regional priorities (as outlined in the Executive’s Programme for Government and Economic Strategy, for example) and local priorities, creating a more integrated approach to solving problems and delivering benefits for citizens.
9 Creating a Plan for the new council area 7. A community plan has many aspects and facets. Its basic objective is to create a long term vision which creates communities that are vibrant, healthy, prosperous, safe and sustainable and have the needs of all citizens at their core.
The plan should seek to maximise resources and create effective and efficient outcome-focused service delivery. 8. The vision in general should be ambitious and lend itself to the creation of real and challenging targets across a range of indicators. Successful community planning will have involved all significant public service deliverers in a council area and will have involved an effective two-way engagement with the community.
9. Visioning will require the ability to be innovative, solution focused rather than problem focused, open, flexible, committed and deliverable. The creation of such a process is based fundamentally on the need to exhibit leadership in all sectors of Northern Ireland society, including the civic leadership of elected members, and to place a better life for citizens at the centre of any discussions and processes. 10. The long term vision will generally be of at least 10-15 years duration. However, the crucial aspect of community planning is to translate the vision into shorter term (4 years or less) plans and actions with clear targets and lines of responsibility.
11. An effective Action Plan should: • Link the outcomes to the vision, and set clear targets and measures for success within a limited timeframe; • Establish clear responsibility lines to the delivery of these targets among the various agencies; and, • Provide a clear review and monitoring process. 12. In order to understand the potential for community planning to deliver meaningful change it is helpful to look at previous learning and approaches. The Annex to this report provides examples of case studies and learning from
10 across the island of Ireland and background to community planning in Scotland and Wales.
13. Experience in other places has shown that some of the key success factors include: • Getting the right people around the table; • Having engaged and effective leaders who are committed to working together and driving cultural change in their organisations, ie. effective political and executive leadership; • Getting buy in from other agencies and building good vertical and horizontal relationships, including peer pressure between partners to help create accountability; • A focus on outcomes with clear accountability and interim performance measures; • Integration / alignment between the regional and local level with linkages to government strategies and priorities; • Robust area based data and SMART analysis; • Dedicated resources to develop and oversee the plan delivery including ongoing support for implementation and investing in capacity in the form of partnership managers; • Engaging communities in the process; • Securing early successes through having a clear remit and a focus on a small number of key issues; • Ensuring that the plan drives the councils’ decision making in terms of investment, grant programmes, regeneration schemes, area planning and strategic aspects of service delivery; and • Ensuring that the plan can be localised so that citizens and neighbourhoods feel its impact and benefit.
11 3. Key Principles 14. The underlying principles which will be necessary for community planning to work effectively are set out below. The following principles have been developed from best practice, learning from ongoing approaches to community planning within Northern Ireland and from other jurisdictions, and have also been informed by the feedback from key partners as part of the engagement on the Foundation Programme (see appendix 2): • Civic and Community Leadership. • A Focus on Outcomes. • Partnership Working. • Participation and Engagement. • Transparency and Openness. • Equality and Diversity.
• People Centred Delivery. Civic and Community Leadership 15. Community planning is about developing, articulating and delivering on the ambition for the future shape of an area. Councils have a unique opportunity in leading and facilitating the community planning process and this leadership role will be central to its success. The leadership role for councils is not just about consulting with citizens and communities but ensuring that there is effective and genuine engagement. It will require the capacity for innovation and creativity in responding to local circumstances.
16. The experience and skills of locally elected representatives will be central in the new council arrangements. Community planning enhances civic leadership by bringing together statutory agencies and key stakeholders to act in partnership to secure outcomes that address local issues and needs. It can result in improved trust in local government; more responsive and accountable decision making; more accessible and empowered democratic representatives; and more opportunities for civic leaders to make a difference for the communities they represent. Councillors will have a critical role in localising as much decision making as possible and making sure residents know about these decisions.
12 17. These new opportunities for civic leaders will also place new demands on them. A Focus on Outcomes 18. Community planning provides an opportunity to focus on the longer term and shared outcomes which will benefit the quality of life of communities. Partnership working towards these shared outcomes should lead to better coordination and use of resources across the public sector and more effective accountability. It will enable community planning partners to focus on local issues whilst also ensuring alignment to regional priorities and strategies.
19. Outcome-focused community planning also has the potential to provide an effective framework for the integration of the functions transferring to councils under local government reform.
By focusing on the long-term goals of local areas and linking these to regional priorities, community planning can put in place the effective partnership working necessary for the integration and improvement of services, effective regeneration of local areas and the implementation of the reformed planning process. 20. Intermediate goals and measures of success will support the ‘outcomes’ approach and can be more readily monitored and assessed.
Partnership Working 21. Community planning aims to improve the connection between regional, local and neighbourhood levels through improved partnership working and better use of all available resources. It recognises that no organisation alone can solve the problems or exploit the opportunities that exist in an area. This can only be achieved by working together. There will be significant challenges along the way in enabling a range of different agencies with different but complementary missions to come together to develop a shared vision for the promotion of an area's well-being. It requires commitment from all the partners, not just through agreement to a strategic vision, but also through action on the ground.
22. Bringing the key public sector agencies together is a necessary part of an effective community planning process, but is not sufficient on its own to promote successful community planning. Beyond the public sector there is recognition that there are a wide range of businesses, voluntary organisations, community and
13 other groups which make vital contributions to promoting the social, economic and environmental well-being of an area. 23. There will also be a need for ongoing changes to culture, attitudes and behaviours to achieve genuine community focus. Investment in shared capacity building will be needed and time must be spent on building new relationships and trust. Participation and Engagement 24. Effective participation and engagement is a cornerstone of community planning, and it reflects the Executive’s vision for local government. 25. Engagement is the process of developing on-going, mutually beneficial and two- way relationships with communities and community planning partners.
It is about giving people access to information and the chance to have a greater say and influence over what happens in their community. Effective engagement should encourage and facilitate participation.
26. It is important to note that there is no fixed approach to engagement or participation. There are many different methods available and it will be important to select the most appropriate methods for the optimum level of involvement during the process. However, engagement and participation should be open and inclusive, and equality considerations should be taken into account and efforts made to remove barriers to engagement. 27. Effective engagement of communities is a long-term process and is likely to be most effective and meaningful at a local or neighbourhood level. As communities will vary considerably between different areas, the challenge facing councils and their community planning partners will be to develop approaches that best suit local circumstances.
28. The Planning Act 2011 will place a requirement on councils to produce a statement of community involvement setting out how the council intends to involve the community in the delivery of their planning functions, including the preparation of the local development plan. Participation and engagement is also recognised as a key underlying principle and process within this Foundation Programme.
14 29. Guidance and good practice in community engagement are set out in the case studies in the Annex. The Annex also includes the Scottish National Standards for Community Engagement and examples from Northern Ireland.
Transparency and Openness 30. Community planning requires transparency and openness in relation to the evidence base used to understand need and set priorities, engaging and involving key partners and communities, and performance management systems used to monitor progress and accountability. This is important for securing buy-in to the process.
Equality and Diversity 31. Community planning should reflect and respect the diversity across Northern Ireland, and incorporate equality and good relations duties. Understanding the unique needs and building on the unique strengths of each new local council district and its communities will be a key feature of community planning. 32. Community planning must not only take into account equality and diversity but it can also play a key role in championing it. Building equality and diversity into the community planning process will help ensure that it responds to the diverse needs of areas and communities.
People Centred Delivery 33. Community planning should be people centred. The wellbeing of an area and the quality of life of its citizens should be the principal reference point in identifying the key problems and opportunities in an area. Community planning needs to be genuinely open to and concerned about peoples’ needs, therefore listening to and engaging with local people and the organisations that represent their interests will be important. 34. Moreover, community planning is about finding local solutions for local issues. Therefore, whilst we can share and potentially transfer good practice, community planning is about translating that in such a way that it is meaningful and effective for a particular local area.
Flexibility and adaptability will be crucial elements for successful community planning.
15 4. Key Supports 35. This section outlines some of the key supports that are needed for community planning to work. Like all processes it needs a sound foundation on which to build. The legislative base and linked regional policies and strategies will provide a starting point, but additional supports will also be needed. It is recommended that Statutory Transition Committees and incoming councils during the shadow period give consideration to the following: Good Governance and Clear Accountability (for decision making and delivery) 36. The governance and accountability arrangements for community planning are important to its success, both at the local area and in terms of the relationships between the local areas and regional agencies and Departments, and with the Executive.
It is needed to support decision-making and delivery, and facilitates better partnership working to achieve outcomes. Developing and building good governance and accountability processes will have its challenges given the breadth of change happening at the regional level and the range of existing and potential partners and structures that exist locally. Statutory Transition Committees and the incoming councils during the shadow period should continue to negotiate this arrangement with regional government as local structures emerge. This is considered in more detail in the next section on ‘Process’.
Evidence and Learning - Information Gathering and Sharing 37. Information gathering and sharing is essential to the success of community planning as is joint working between agencies, which should ultimately lead to better outcomes for all. It is required for a variety of reasons: • to assess community needs appropriately and accurately; • to gain a shared understanding of need; • to provide a basis for joint planning and targeting of resources; • to assist in performance management and the setting and monitoring of shared targets; • to improve efficiency and reduce duplication; • to promote mutual understanding by sharing key organisational information ; and
16 • to improve customer service and promote consistency in customer care. 38. One of the first steps to enable the Statutory Transition Committees and incoming councils to prepare for community planning will be to carry out an information audit to identify what information currently exists and is required to support community planning in their new council area. The audit should identify what information is available currently (such as NISRA held data, council information and that held by partner agencies) and what gaps exist. It should also identify examples of good practice in sharing information, the barriers to collating and using information, and how relevant information can be gathered efficiently and effectively.
This will give each new council area a sound base from which to develop a strategic approach that will support evidence based decision making and the monitoring of performance.
39. Community planning brings agencies together and encourages information sharing and more informed decision-making. In particular, it provides the opportunity for improved information sharing, not just between public sector organisations, but also with the voluntary, community and private sectors. Examples of good practice in the development of information databases and information sharing can be found in the case studies at in the Annex. Communication 40. Meaningful and effective communication will be essential throughout the community planning process. However it will be particularly important during the early stages in order to build shared understanding and trust, and will be essential in helping to ensure that the roles of the various partners are well understood.
Community Development 41. To enable all communities to engage and participate in community planning, it is important that they are equipped with the necessary skills and capabilities. Community development enables people to come together to influence or take decisions about issues that matter to them and that affect their lives, to define needs, issues and solutions for their community, and to take action to help themselves and make a difference. Therefore adopting a community development approach will be a key support and enabler in the community planning process. This is particularly important for those communities not as well equipped to engage and participate as others.
17 Resources 42. Effective community planning should lead to better co-ordination of service delivery and less duplication of services, thereby resulting in efficiency savings. This will mean that councils and their community planning partners will be able to make better use of existing resources. A commitment to share and re-align resources will be a critical success factor for community planning. 43. Examples of good practice in the pooling and sharing of resources can be found in the Annex case studies.
18 5. Key Processes and Recommended Steps 44.
This section explores the key processes which will need to be developed in preparation for community planning and includes recommended steps that should be undertaken in advance of 2015. Many of the processes are inter-connected, but can be grouped as follows: Monitoring and Review Performance and Accountability Alignment and Scope Capacity Building and Culture Change Getting Started Partnership Engagement Governance Supporting Planning and Delivery
19 Alignment & Scope 45. Early steps in community planning involve both scoping out the information already available and also the extent to which that information could be shared in order to help build a common understanding of the needs and opportunities that exist in an area. 46. No new council area is dealing with a “blank canvas”, but preparatory work is needed to understand the new local area and how previous strategies and plans can be used to inform the new vision and plan. Steps should be taken to ensure there is an evidence based approach to understanding the new locality and the needs of the new area and to establish an effective and efficient approach to information gathering and sharing, essential for informing community planning decisions.
Alignment & Scope Recommended Steps i. A clear audit of the existing plans/strategies for the new council area for all sectors ii. Desk-based collation of existing short, medium and long-term plans and strategies which currently impact or relate to the new council area. iii. Identify the key issues that will inform the development of the long-term vision through a fact based audit. iv. Mapping of current priorities, plans, programmes (including service delivery) and funding as a way of uncovering duplication and gaps in addressing issues. v. Consider and correlate the current information that the councils hold on any aspect of the new council area.
vi. Consider any current information sharing processes between sectors that exist in the new council area. vii. Research other information sources that may exist which provide information on the new council area and how easily accessible these are. viii. Seek to identify good/effective practice on information-sharing within the new council area.
20 Culture Change & Capacity Building 47. Community planning challenges traditional ways of working and delivering services. It requires the development of new attitudes, behaviours, skills and competencies that will underpin joined-up policy development, effective partnership working and effective engagement.
It will place new demands on community planning partners, from those in decision-making positions to those working at the point of service delivery. The early investment in awareness and capacity building will be essential to bring about the cultural change and skills needed to deliver community planning.
48. Councillors may fulfil a number of a key roles in the community planning process: • as members of a community planning partnership, including thematic groups where they may hold a strategic leadership role; • as members of partnership bodies, where they may assist in considering the contribution of the partner body to community planning; • as representatives or the “voice” of communities; • as members of sub-groups or working groups associated with community planning partnerships to which they can contribute their own specialist interests, experience or expertise; • as representatives on various other bodies with a stake in community planning, such as area or joint committees; and • through regular liaison with relevant partner bodies on initiatives which can make a positive contribution to community planning processes.
49. Both councillors and members of partner bodies will require support. That could include: • regular briefings on key community planning issues and developments; • capacity building and skill-sharing workshops; • development of electronic networks, discussion forums and so forth, for sharing experiences and good practices.
50. Capacity building should be undertaken with all community planning partners.
21 Culture Change & Capacity Building Recommended Steps i. Undertake initiatives aimed at raising awareness of the issue of community planning and what best practice looks like through a programme to target all those who will play a role in community planning. ii. Begin a capacity building programme with elected members to raise awareness of community planning and its implications and to begin to equip them with the additional skills to take on this new role. iii. Consider and organise a number of seminars/conferences, to raise awareness, and to debate and discuss the development of community planning in the new council area.
iv. Identify champions in each partner organisation to help develop the community planning process and to support change management and capacity building within their organisation.
22 Partnership Governance & Structure Engagement Partnership Working 51. The success of community planning will be grounded in the development of effective partnership working between organisations delivering public services in the council area and between these organisations and the communities they serve. 52. The community planning legislation and subsequent guidance may specify which organisations will be required to participate in community planning.
The active participation of public sector agencies, especially those with significant public resources, will be required to ensure that community planning works. It is essential, therefore, that relationships are established with these agencies. Where existing relationships are well established, these should be further developed and where not, actively pursued.
53. Community planning involves the creation of a strategic partnership structure supported by a number of partnerships focussed on themes or particular communities. Councils should take the opportunity to look at the various partnership arrangements that are already in place and which may be needed in the future to ensure that it is not overly complex, and is fit for purpose. 54. Considerable research exists in terms of effective partnership working and this is set out in the Annex case studies. Engagement 55. The method used by councils and community planning partnerships to engage with communities should reflect the circumstances of their particular area.
For example, the structure and working practices of organisations and groups in rural areas will differ from those in urban areas. As a result, each will require distinct approaches aimed at achieving broad local ownership of the process. Individuals, communities and representative bodies should feel that their views have been listened to and taken into account. Effective local engagement can be difficult to achieve, so it may be appropriate to try alternative approaches. Examples of different approaches can be found in the case studies in the Annex.
23 Governance - Developing structures to support Community Planning 56. To ensure the community planning process is effective there will be a need for involvement and participation from a wide range of sectors and organisations. Many of these organisations are already participating in partnership working across Northern Ireland delivering noticeable benefits as a result. Building and learning from these should be natural starting points for the new councils. Community planning may require a different approach to partnership working, for example to overcome any tensions that will arise over prioritisation, especially where there are limited resources.
57. Statutory Guidance will be issued ahead of the introduction of the community planning duty that will assist with possible governance structures or models to facilitate community planning. In the interim it is recommended that each new council area should consider establishing a district-wide Community Planning Partnership which will have responsibility for creating the vision and key priorities and for ensuring it is resourced and deliverable. Beneath this, other supporting structures are likely to be required and may include: • a small number of thematic partnerships responsible for creating more detailed plans on specific issues; and • local area partnership arrangements working with local communities to ensure the district / thematic plans address the needs of local people.
58. The STCs and the incoming councils during the shadow period and their partners should develop arrangements which work best for their areas, having regard to what is already in place and working well, and to the key challenges facing the area.
24 Partnership Governance & Structure Engagement Recommended Steps i. Conduct an audit of all existing partnership arrangements in the new council area. ii. Map this existence and seek to identify duplication, gaps and the possibility for more effective working. iii. Consider models of best practice in partnership working in the new council area and create a list of key elements which ensure effective working. iv. Consider the current organisation of the business community and private sector in the new council area and begin a dialogue about their role and participation in community planning.
Consider the current organisation of the community and voluntary sectors in the new council area and begin a dialogue about their role and participation in community planning. vi. Assess current arrangements across the sectors within the new council area for engaging with local people, and use this as a baseline to help develop more joined up community engagement processes. vii. Map out the current engagement with other public agencies in the new council area and consider the quality of the relationships and the gaps in engagement. viii. Begin a process of active engagement with the public agencies which are key to the ongoing development of the new council area.
ix. Consider any current models of working at local area level. How effective are they and what is their potential within the community planning process? x. Use the strategy mapping and audit of existing partnerships to identify and understand the core issues for each new council area and consider how the issues could be used to create a series of thematic partnerships. xi. Consider what a “fit for purpose” model of partnership would look like to deliver and implement community planning in the area. Consider the roles, decision making and resource allocation processes and accountability, and how partnerships link to the planning and decision making processes of the organisations involved.
xii. Begin a process of engagement on possible structures and architecture.
25 Performance & Accountability 59. Under the proposed legislation for community planning councils and their partners will monitor progress against community planning objectives and produce a statement on progress. Community planning should focus on results rather than process and should ideally be measured in relation to the outcomes it achieves. However, achieving outcomes requires a series of intermediate steps, some taken by individual bodies and some jointly. Being able to monitor progress and performance calls for robust and sound data/information, as well as integrating performance improvement and accountability frameworks that connect with the actions of local and central government and key agencies.
These are needed to support: a) an alignment of the use of resources at local and regional level; b) clarity on accountability for the delivery of actions; c) a focus on delivery; and d) connecting performance improvement and accountability at the local level with regional outcomes and targets.
60. Elsewhere in the UK a focus on outcomes has allowed greater alignment between regional priorities (such as is outlined in the Executive’s Programme for Government and Economic Strategy for example) and local priorities, creating a more integrated approach to delivering outcomes. The Annex contains an example of a Scottish Single Outcome Agreement and how national priorities are translated at a local level. Performance & Accountability Recommended Steps i. Audit current performance management processes among those organisations operating in the new council area and assess the issues which need to be addressed in attempting to create more coherence and consistency, where appropriate.
ii. Develop a robust performance / data information framework to enable the new council area to monitor and report on progress and performance against the community plan. iii. Ensure the performance management process is able to monitor progress against outcomes, and embed an outcomes based approach from the outset. iv. Consider the connections between management frameworks at a local level and emerging regional frameworks.