Public service reform

What is Public Service Reform (PSR) and what does it mean for communities?

Historically, the West Midlands has been the “workshop of the world”.

Now our challenge is to create jobs, enhance skills, develop prosperity and drive economic growth. 

PSR vision – ‘Transforming lives in the West Midlands’

The WMCA’s strategy, the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP), has a significant focus on PSR and its vision of transformation of the lives of people in the West Midlands.

An important aspiration of the PSR programme is to eliminate the gap between the cost of local public services and the tax generated by the local economy which will be achieved through the PSR ambitions. This gap currently stands at over £4 billion per year.

Transformation is not just about reducing the net deficit between the level of public expenditure and the income raised through taxes and revenues, but about improving the quality of life of everyone in the area.

PSR has expressed this in three ambitions:

PSR includes an initial programme of activity supporting people with complex needs, reforming criminal justice and improving employment, skills and mental health. The WMCA plans to reform services so that they improve the quality of life of people, improving life chances, health and wellbeing, preventing demand, reducing dependency, growing the capability and untapped assets in communities and supporting the ageing population.

The programme currently focuses on four areas;

  • Multiple Complex Needs
  • Offending, Criminal Justice and the devolution of Youth Justice
  • Employment and skills
  • Health and wellbeing (including mental health)

As well as the four work streams, there are several key enablers for PSR, these include; An Annual Policy Research Plan, Information Sharing and Analysis, Workforce Development, Apprenticeship Levy Proposals, PSR Review Tool and Digital Vision.

How will it be delivered? 

To view the above image more clearly please click here

PSR Work Streams and Enablers

Work Streams

Health and wellbeing

The WMCA Wellbeing Board governs the CA’s work to improve wellbeing and health outcomes, ensuring linkages to local Sustainability and Transformation Plans. Health and social care represents around a third of public spending in the West Midlands (over £7 billion annually).

The first major reform project relating to the Health and Wellbeing programme is the “Thrive” Mental Health Commission work. To find out more about this please click here

The next major project in this programme is our 'On the Move' physical activity strategy. On the Move has been developed with local authorities, Public Health England, the County Sports Partnerships, in consultation with WMCA theme leads and networks and sets out four ambitions:

  1. Making it easier and more desirable to move around the West Midlands
  2. Making it easier and more enjoyable to be outdoors in our green and blue spaces and urban environments
  3. Improving how it feels to live in our streets and communities
  4. Improving people’s life chances, wellbeing, employability and access to work. 

You can find out more about On the Move here.

Employment and skills

The key areas of focus are the Devolution Agreement and setting up the Productivity & Skills Commission as well as looking at potential areas for further devolution

The Productivity & Skills Commission has been set up with the following aims:

  • To establish the true extent of the productivity and skills challenge in the West Midlands
  • To understand the component causes of the productivity and skills challenge and the inter-relationships between them
  • To make recommendations as to how these causes can be addressed at pace, taking a whole system approach
  • To ensure appropriate plans are developed for the implementation of these recommendations and monitoring systems exist to review their effectiveness.

To see more information on the Skills and Productivity Commission please click here.

Offending, Criminal Justice and the devolution of Youth Justice

Criminal justice collaboration and devolution will enable us to prevent crime and reduce re-offending by giving us the tools and incentives to invest upstream rather than managing the cost of failure.  We will work across the combined authority and with partners and the third sector to address offending, our focus is on reducing repeat offending by those with particular vulnerabilities – initially young people and adult women offenders. 

Key areas of focus are:

  • Understand children and young people’s pathways and profile
  • Benchmark current interventions and service provision - cost, outcomes, governance
  • Review research and best practice nationally, regionally and internationally
  • Review options for modelling to meet preventative strategic ambitions whilst discharging statutory responsibilities
  • Scope options for further devolution of youth justice in line with Taylor review recommendations and the Government's response 
  • Establish costs and benefits of application to West Midlands
  • Recommendations to Government and the Combined Authority on costed options and future delivery models.

 The Criminal Justice work stream is timely because:

  • It provides an opportunity to build on youth justice successes to improve outcomes for children
  • The current youth justice system is not sustainable
  • There is major potential to transform lives
  • There are significant devolution opportunities
  • National Government has completed the Charlie Taylor Review of Youth Justice which highlights several potential improvements.

Multiple Complex Needs

People with multiple complex needs often suffer from poor outcomes, including health problems, unemployment and family breakdown. Current services are not cost-effective in supporting this group, leading to unfulfilled lives, high public service and social costs and low economic contributions.

Key issues include:

Definition – The programme has initially adopted a definition based on people with two or more of three complex needs relating to offending, homelessness or substance misuse. There are some important gaps in this definition which are currently being explored.

Prevalence - Analysis by Lankelly Chase suggested relatively high prevalence in West Midlands, but this analysis is now over six years old and so needs to be updated.

Costs - National analysis suggests much higher public service costs for people with multiple complex needs.

Causes – There are multiple factors influencing whether someone develops multiple complex needs. Issues to explore include:

  • Resilience (asset based approaches including mental and emotional wellbeing)
  • Attachment (and neglect)
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences
  • Trauma (e.g. domestic violence)
  • Relationships and social networks (especially loss of key member of family)
  • Behaviours (including norms; individual, community, professional and parenting behaviour: attachment, values, norms)
  • Protective factors
  • Effective support as an individual (e.g. mentoring)
  • Community impacts (for localities and interest groups)
  • The importance of structure and a sense of purpose in living.


Workforce Development

Workforce development has been identified as one of the key enablers for the WMCA ambitions to deliver public sector reform – and through this, address the projected £4bn public service funding gap to 2020 in the region. As such, the University of Birmingham, funded through the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), are helping to develop a workforce development approach.

This workstream will support WMCA ambitions to develop:

  1. Accredited Leadership Framework for Public Service.
  2. Related Competency based Apprenticeship Framework for public service.

Building on the 21st Century Public Servant research findings a number of ‘key skills/competency themes’ are being proposed as relevant for supporting public service reform:

  • Collaborative and distributed Leadership (or Leading in an Integrated Environment);
  • Managing demand at the customer interface (promoting self-help);
  • Improving productivity through innovation;
  • Developing digital public services (to maximise the potential of digital);
  • Business intelligence and evidence skills (understanding impact of demand and return of investment)

Research and Intelligence

Robust research and intelligence helps the Combined Authority by informing debates, exploring options, freeing up resources, and evaluating new ways of working. The proposed strategic vision for research and intelligence is:

“to create actionable insight supporting improved outcomes for WM residents, by informing WMCA decision making”.

In January 2017 the WMCA Programme Board supported proposals for the future operating model for research and intelligence in the WMCA, developed by a working group involving officers nominated by each partner. This work complements the wider engagement with local universities.

The development of the WMCA provides an opportunity to increase the impact of research and intelligence in improving outcomes for WM residents, particularly by:

  • Focusing research and intelligence on delivering the SEP.
  • Taking a region-wide overview and working efficiently across teams, whilst also understanding local contexts.
  • Ensuring our research is reliable and robust by developing common principles, standards, methodologies and training.
  • Building a holistic view of citizens by improving information sharing and analysis across WMCA partners.

The proposed priorities for research and intelligence in the WMCA over the next three years (subject to approval at the WMCA Board AGM) are:

  • Delivering the research agenda for the SEP.
  • Leveraging existing knowledge.
  • Learning “what works and why?”: The West Midlands will be a hotbed of innovation in economic growth and public service reform, so we need to learn and adapt quickly.
  • Understanding local people, particularly those with multiple needs: so that we can learn how to transform social and economic outcomes for this group.



Related Documents