Sector-led improvement (SLI) is a distinctive approach to improvement put in place by local authorities and the Local Government Association (LGA). It’s ethos is that the sector takes responsibility for and draws on the intelligence and experience of it’s own sector to drive improvement. Components of sector-led improvement includes offers of corporate peer challenges, support for elected members, and bespoke support for individual councils, particularly those in difficult circumstances including possible government intervention. SLI covers a range of policy and service delivery areas including adult social care, children’s services, public health and the local government workforce.
One of our most insightful pieces of research exploring the value of SLI was commissioned by the LGA and involved collecting and curating stories of the experience and impact of sector-led improvement in the words of the leaders and chief executives concerned. The aim of the research was to collect and disseminate learning from the process across the sector, encourage councils which have not yet participated to do so, and to demonstrate the robustness and impact of the process.
Our findings were published in the report, Rising to the challenge: lessons of sector-led improvement in local government, drawing on interviews with the leaders and chief executives in 19 councils. The key finding is the extent to which leaders and chief executives valued corporate peer challenge and there is no doubt that peer challenges have an impact. Some impacts are obvious: councils without a vison for their place working to develop one; councils adopting a more commercial approach; transformation programmes being re-booted. Other impacts are less tangible: councils becoming more outwardly focussed; councils which are frequently in no overall control being supported to work through the complexity.
Since this report, Shared intelligence has continued to support the delivery of SLI programmes and undertake evaluations of their effectiveness. For example, we have brought council officers together to work through their challenges of the day and help find solutions to overcome these using action learning methods. Topics of focus have included embedding work on equalities through co-design and co-production (LGA), designing, delivery and monitoring councils’ UKSPF programmes (LGA), and encouraging local businesses to pay the living wage and provide good work opportunities (GLA).
We have evaluated a number of SLI programmes to the role they play in improving councils’ internal operations and external facing services, and delivery of their corporate priorities. For example, we have recently undertaken an evaluation of the LGA and Association for Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) Care and Health Improvement Programme (now named Partners in Care and Health) to understand the effectiveness and impact of the programme for improving care and health services, and how the programme could be refocused to better support the needs of the sector. We have reviewed the National Graduate Development Programme in it’s 20th year of delivery to understand how the programme can continue to meet the needs of councils and national management trainees, with a particular focus on how the programme can ensure diversity and inclusion. We have also completed two evaluations of the LGA Apprenticeship Accelerator Programme to understand its effectiveness and impact on councils’ delivery of apprenticeships.
Shared Intelligence continues to advocate for the power of SLI programmes and approaches that seek to harness intelligence from within the sector to improve the sector. If you would like to learn more about our work in this area or how we could help you develop something similar, email@example.com would love to hear from you.