One of the perennial challenges of government is coordination across services. In areas such as child welfare you may have central government, local government, health, education, police, fire brigade and social services all involved across the policy and delivery space. Not to mention the involvement of the charity, private and voluntary sectors.
There have been many attempts to try and join up services better such as the current MultiAgency Support Hubs (MASH) and shared regional offices. But they have always suffered from challenges around technology, systems, culture, ways of working and lines of responsibility.
Hence, even today, much of the talk is around infrastructure rather than outcomes. Moving offices and parts of government machinery to the regions which has been done for at least the last 50 years with mixed results both in terms of better services and indeed macroeconomic benefits.
The pandemic has forced people out of the office. It has given people both opportunity and challenge. The opportunities to work more organically and more locally but the challenge of systems and infrastructure which too often impedes those opportunities.
How then can we use the learning from the pandemic to move from a culture of hub and spoke offices where people make sit together in a regional space but are seldom able to actively work together to one where work is based on outcomes rather than structures?
The opportunities for both service delivery and radical cost savings of such changes have been so far secondary to the immediate need to deliver during a pandemic but as we can start to see an end can we capture the learning to set out a rapidly realisable way of making joined up, locally owned service delivery real?
Can we take this learning and implement it?