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Stepping Out NOW                                         June 2014
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What's the future for local public services after the next General Election? Carnage - and mass closures of local authority services? Or, finally, a genuine opening up to new kinds of delivery?

There is genuine disquiet in the local government sector about what happens next. According to a recent survey of Council CEOs and Leaders by PwC, confidence in being able to continue to provide good public services while staying solvent is 'crumbling'. Nine out of ten CEOs think some councils will get into financial difficulties in the next five years. 

And with  public services only halfway through the cuts it is becoming increasingly difficult for local authorities who have already done much of what can be done in terms of efficiencies and shared services. 

There will, therefore, be a fairly stark choice in many areas: close down valued public services: leisure centres, libraries, day centres, children's centres and so on.  Or find new ways of delivering these.   That these ways exist is not in doubt. Suffolk Libraries now runs on a third less funding than three years ago and not a single library has closed. Like many former public services, it has used the commercial freedom of becoming a mutual to work far more closely with communities in the running of libraries. 

Examples like this exist all over the country. But the future isn't all about spin-outs. Community and voluntary organisations are taking an increasing role in looking after people and places. In my own community, we have just taken ownership of a building which was built by the council over 40 years ago and, until now, run by them too. The future of public services, be it managing football pitches or organising social care is, more and more, going to be about the skilful bringing together of public money, or assets, with the time and resources of ordinary people.   

There is no other way of squaring the circle. Traditional public services are all but finished. We either see them closed or out-sourced in reduced form, or we take them on ourselves, if we believe in a public realm that is worthy of its name. 

At Stepping Out, we know which side of the line we stand. Alternative approaches to delivery are the only sensible ways forward. Let's all get talking to the parties now, as the Manifestos start to take shape.
 

-- Craig
 

                                                      

Stepping Out recently partnered with the  East of England Local Government Association to deliver 'The Entrepreneurial Council II' and it was the perfect event for local authorities who are ready to take on the challenge of improving services and reducing costs.

It was a tremendous event with a great turn out of individuals all at different stages.

The overview of the event and the slides used by speakers can be found by clicking here.
On the sofa…



This month, we hear from Brendan O'Keefe, who has led the spin out of EPIC, the UK's first youth services mutual

Ask The Expert

Lucy Meyler is a Consultant with Stepping Out and leads on our work helping social businesses to improve their social impact reporting.


Why do social businesses need to know about their social impact and how can it be measured?
 
To start with a quick definition: social impact is the effect that an activity has on individuals and communities; this can be social, economic or environmental.

It is particularly important for social businesses to be aware of their social impact because, by definition, they aim to achieve positive outcomes for society. Examining the whole effect that your activities as a business have enables you to truly know and understand the benefits of your work. It also allows you to evaluate whether you are really achieving your goals as an organisation, and perhaps whether those goals are realistic.

Measuring social impact is also increasingly important for any competitive business, particularly in public services. Since the introduction of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, all public authorities are required to consider the social impact of public service contracts. Demonstrating the extra social impact that your organisation will achieve through delivering a service emphasises your quality, value for money and can improve your chances of being commissioned.

Often measuring social impact can seem daunting, another chapter to add to the infinite annual report. However, the way you report your social impact can be as simple or as complicated as you like. The basic approach is to first identify the groups that are affected by your work, then understand the outcomes you are achieving for them, for example ‘helping our customers to feel more confident’.

Once you have identified some outcomes you need to work out what to measure them by, for example ‘customers reporting increased confidence after six week course’, and then how you will measure them, perhaps through a questionnaire.

Each of these stages can throw up a huge amount of possibilities so it is very important to stay focussed throughout the process.  Don’t get side-tracked by positive effects that you know about but that do not matter to your core business.
 
Opportunity

The “Provide-Power2Inspire” Social Enterprise Leadership Training Scholarship – in association with Cathedral Innovation Centre and Just International. For details and how to apply, click here.

 

Of Note

Stepping out will be launching their new website this month, see it first here

Chiltern Rangers look to be leading the way in spinning out Woodland Social enterprises as reports the Guardian

Cambridge University's Judge Business School launches Social Incubator East 

4th July is the UK's Employee Owned day for 2014
 

Good Reads:

Report: Social ventures no less likely to fail than PLCs
 
Swimming against the tide

Freedom of choice in Children's services

The mutual future of our National Health Service
 

Events

Co-operatives UK Annual Congress

LGA annual conference and exhibition 2014

11th July is the closing date for the Social Enterprise Awards

Support and investment to grow your business
 
Stepping Out is an approved provider for the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund. If you are looking for support to grow your social business contact us 07887 414042 or rob.fountain@stepping-out.biz

Join Our Talent Pool!
 
We get involved in some fascinating assignments and have associate opportunities for people with particular skills and experience that will help move our clients forward.  If you have a talent that you think those setting up and developing new public service delivery models could benefit from then we’d love to hear from you.  Send a CV and covering note to Rob Fountain at rob.fountain@stepping-out.biz and let’s start the conversation.
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