The Institute for Government (IfG) and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) have teamed up to create an innovative new programme that will bring together Whitehall policy makers with the people who deliver services on the ground. This programme is grounded in the investments that BIG is making in some of the most stubborn challenges in social policy, so the programme will offer participants a unique opportunity to learn from each other as work unfolds in real time, and to connect their insights back into their departments and organisations.
This partnership is prompted by BIG England’s pioneering new funding, investing up to £300 million over five to ten years in projects that address the needs of some of the most vulnerable groups in society.
Acting as a national commissioner, BIG will put money and support behind place-based, person-centred approaches that are delivered through partnerships of voluntary organisations. The Connecting Policy with Practice programme focuses specifically on two of these major investments, which aim to support:
- Young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs)
- Adults with multiple and complex needs.
Faced with the challenges of new types of commissioning, stretched resources and the realities of providing tailored, personalised support to people in a disparate service delivery environment, now is a crucial time for voluntary organisations to share best practice and shape policy.
At the same time policy makers are increasingly facing new challenges and drawing on new techniques and insights in response, and the Government’s plans for open public services are changing the nature of policy making in Whitehall. It is clear that traditional delivery models will not be effective in addressing the most intractable social policy problems, especially against a background of reducing resources.
The Institute for Government, has produced research on better policy making, commissioning and system stewardship, which provides a valuable background to this work. By drawing on the projects being funded by BIG, we will foster greater understanding of the relationship between government policy and the delivery landscape outside the public sector. These insights tap into the needs outlined in the Civil Service Reform Plan, which committed to “building on evidence from policy in practice”, encouraged greater interchange with other sectors, and proposed five days a year of professional development for policy makers. This programme will help to make these propositions a reality.
Programme of work
The programme has the potential to extend over several years, following the BIG projects through their development.
At the heart of the programme is a 30-person cohort, drawn primarily from the Civil Service, local authorities and voluntary sector organisations working on Big Lottery investments. Participating organisations include the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Education, the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Justice, the Cyrenians, Shelter, the Princes Trust and Addaction, among others.
- This cohort will take part in a series of cross-sector exchanges that will see policy makers visiting local projects to experience first-hand the challenges of delivering complex social policies in practice.
- In return, staff from the VCS and BIG will benefit from a deeper appreciation of how government and the Civil Service make major policy decisions that impact upon delivery in their sector.
Through workshops, research, case studies and a series of events, the Institute will capture and share insights on both sides about how policy making can better foster services that are responsive to the needs of users who can be marginalised by traditional services.
Find out more
- The prospectus for Connecting Policy with Practice outlines what’s involved for the programme cohort and our events series over the next year
- You can watch a video from the event that launched the programme in January
- Participants from the programme will be writing about their experiences on the Institute for Government blog