Working to make government more effective


Joining up public services around local, citizen needs: Perennial challenges and insights on how to tackle them

This early discussion paper synthesises the existing literature on the barriers to joining up public services around local, citizen needs and insights

Heralded as the solution by many, joining up is seen as a way to reduce duplication, make efficiency savings and improve public service outcomes for citizens. In recent years, fiscal constraint and rising demand have only increased the pressure on local and central leaders to join up and break down entrenched organisational silos. But although there is broad agreement on the need to join up, there is little agreement on what this actually means, what approaches work best or whether particular models are more effective than others.

This short paper reviews the existing literature on joining up public services. It identifies five perennial barriers that repeatedly get in the way and ten insights on how to overcome these, drawing on several case studies of successful examples. The paper ends by highlighting some of the thorny issues that remain to be tackled on how to practically take this agenda forward and embed new, collaborative models of working on a wide scale. We have produced two infographics alongside this publication:

  • a map of how local public services feel from a citizen perspective
  • a timeline of national attempts to join up public services at a local level (1997-2015)

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