In the final part in our series on Total Place, Helen Mooney looks at how Birmingham’s Total Place pilot is focused on cutting through organisational boundaries and slashing waste while delivering better services

Total Place: how partnerships can maximise resources

Total Place: how partnerships can maximise resources

Total Place: how partnerships can maximise resources

The Be Birmingham partnership is a coalition of all the city’s public and third sector agencies currently delivering public services to its population. Here the Total Place pilot, one of the 13 nationally which are examining public spending in a range of service areas, has so far involved a detailed financial analysis of current services, a package of leadership training which includes cross agency engagement to develop a new culture of collaborative working, and six joint commissioning projects.

Over £7bn is spent within the public sector across the city - it is only right that we look at how we maximise every pound that is spent

The commissioning projects have been established to:

  • design and deliver new services for people with learning disabilities;
  • design and deliver services for people with mental health needs;
  • set up preventive approaches to tackling drug and alcohol abuse, and guns and gangs;
  • improve outcomes for young people leaving care.

The objectives of the pilot are to measure the extent to which public sector budgets contribute to partnership priority outcomes. It aims to gain greater understanding and analysis of citywide resources, identify how tax revenue could contribute to better outcomes, identify barriers to having more flexible budgets including the potential to pool budgets, and calculate the relative cost savings of preventive measures.

Birmingham City Council chief executive Stephen Hughes thinks Total Place is one of the most important initiatives for local areas and local government for some time.

“It gives public agencies in one place the opportunity to grasp the agenda, to design services that better meet the needs of local citizens, to cut through artificial organisational boundaries, to slash waste and inefficiency and be better placed to meet the future pressures on public spending. It’s a chance we must not let slip.”

He says the pilot will allow the council to work with local partners on collaborative leadership to shape the landscape, creatively delivering better services for the people who live in Birmingham under a much tighter financial regime.

“Over £7bn is spent within the public sector across the city - it is only right that we look at how we maximise every pound that is spent, and work in partnership to avoid unnecessary overlap.”

Be Birmingham director Jackie Mould says Total Place is about three different things; identifying efficiency savings, putting citizens at the heart of better service delivery and finding collaborative ways of working.

“To ensure success Birmingham’s partners must look beyond their organisational boundaries and work together. As well as delivering a service that focuses solely on those that use it, this approach will also provide better value for money.”

Board member champions

Multi-agency teams have been established for each of the joint commissioning projects and are led by a board member champion and specialist lead officer. The roles of the board member champion are to promote the work of the project, provide leadership to the project team, help to identify solutions to problems and provide a link back to the executive board.

The pilot has focused on two specific health challenges for the city: mental health and drug and alcohol abuse. Jon Tomlinson leads on mental health for the pilot and says Total Place is the “perfect vehicle” to further establish joint commissioning and strategic relationships to establish better services for people with mental health issues and learning disabilities.

“It is about better service delivery as well as better outcomes,” he explains.

“Total Place has given us the opportunity to use some money to test out different methods of delivery to help us make the savings we will need to make in the longer term,” he adds.

Mr Tomlinson says that much of the work around mental health and learning disabilities is also about housing, employment and social care and that Total Place is helping to join those services together.

Total Place Birmingham lead for drug and alcohol Parveen Akhtar agrees.

“Total Place has helped us to carry out journey mapping to see what the pressure points are in the system. This is often where people are treated but not helped with their recovery,” she explains. “We are looking at more effective solutions and interacting with other agencies such as housing to develop support packages.”

Ms Akhtar says one of the early examples of the pilot has meant that alcohol misuse nurses are now working in the city’s various accident and emergency departments.

“Total Place has enabled us to facilitate and test what difference that will make,” she says.