Local Government Reorganisation
What is LGR?
From 1 April 2023 local government in Cumbria changed, with the six district councils and Cumbria County Council replaced by two new unitary authorities.
These unitary authorities now provide all the services previously provided by district councils and the county council.
Cumberland Council covers the areas of Allerdale, Carlisle and Copeland, with Westmorland and Furness Council providing services to those in the Barrow, Eden, and South Lakeland areas.
How can I find out more?
Both new unitary authorities have their own websites and social media accounts:
Our vision for third sector support through LGR
We want to see our new Unitary Authorities and VCFSE organisations in Cumbria commit to being mutually enabling, empowering, collaborative and engaging – working in true and equal partnership at both local and authority levels for the benefit of our communities.
This should be about more than just fair engagement between voluntary and public sector bodies. We call for a shared vision and joint strategy, where voluntary organisations can develop relationships and facilitate activity at a local level to reduce inequalities in health and life expectancy and achieve a positive transformation for the people of Cumbria.
Feedback from Meet the Council Events
We are delighted to provide you with the feedback following our Meet the Council Events, with Cumberland and Westmorland and Furness, held in Autumn 2023.
These events were designed and delivered based on a combination of survey responses from the Cumbria CVS membership. The events provided an excellent opportunity for members of the voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) organisations to gain key updates on changes to the new Unitary authority services and ask questions on topics impacting them on the early development of the new authorities. This also provided an opportunity for the Councils to understand what is important to the sector, at a key moment in their development process. We are grateful that they were able to actively respond to the request from our Membership.
The topics discussed at both events focuses on new vision and strategy, Funding and Commissioning, Long Term Engagement with Sector, Partnership, Opportunities and Consultations and Shared Resources and Training.
Full details of the feedback are detailed below.
A summary of outcomes include:
Details of who is who in the Councils
Where to gain information on Community Networks/Locality Boards
Commission and Funding Information
A summary of actions for CVS – Next Steps
- Ensure new authorities communicate at key points in development to consult and speak to the VCSFE sector
- Promote current VCSFE pathways and communication channels to encourage engagement
On 21 September 2023, we were joined by Andrew Seekings, Conway Stuart, Colin Cox Paul Musgrave and Lizzy Shaw at the Cumberland event.
Looking at vision and strategy Cumberland presented their vision and aims, as well as their approach.
Cumberland Meet the Council Notes/Feedback
The remit of Public Health covers: Public Health team, public protection and communities. Communities and Health and Wellbeing will be embedded at the heart of the work delivered.
Strategically, Cumberland will be hosting its own Health and Wellbeing Board, which will run in parallel to NE&NC Integrated Care Board’s Integrated Care Partnership (ICP).
Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) also covers part of Cumberland, leading to some complex governance.
The priorities for Public Health include:
- Focus on how systems work at place level
- Addictions (Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling)
- Children (major piece of work is Healthy Child programme)
- Mental Health & Suicide prevention
- Prevention of Coronary Vascular Disease
- Healthy weight
- Social isolation
With regard to Health Commissioning, Cumberland acknowledge that there are challenges with groups who operate across the County, which reflects a similar commission model to the NHS. But, the Public Heath Team are keen to engage with VCSFE sector to ensure that feedback is acknowledged.
Going forward, Public Health will be embedded to all aspects of Cumberland Council delivery, looking at every policy to understand how it impacts Health and Wellbeing. The long term ambition is to do this as a cross-cutting project.
Funding and Commissioning
We heard that Cumberland are aiming to, wherever possible, optimise its addressable spend locally (including Third Sector), and create a local multiplier effect with each pound spent, thereby creating more wealth/sustainable businesses and communities i.e. this links in well with the community wealth-building approach.
Cumberland want to give more notice of when contracts will be coming up for renewal/new contracts, to enable individual, collaborative partnership or consortia to form robust bids. Contract pipeline should be on website from November, and will cover next 18 month to 2 years planning horizons. It will also provide information/guidance on how to tender, and include information relating to the application of Social Value into tenders and so forth.
Legally, Grant funding shouldn’t be too restrictive in terms of KPIs, etc (so get in touch with the Council Commissioning Team if it seems to be). However, when grant funding comes from specific national government schemes, grant conditions will need to be passed down, and timescales can be short – there are some things that can’t be controlled locally. Funding will be provided on an annual basis.
Cumberland has 8 Community Panels, that have some funding to invest in local priorities (£47k – £78k per panel, depending on population).
You can find out more about how to apply here: Cumberland | How to apply for investment from a Community Panel
This funding can’t be used for general running costs, but can now be used to cover salary costs for a defined period.
If there are key investment themes or areas, it is advisable to reach out to the Community Development Team to discuss connected ways of funding and working together to avoid duplication/add value.
Local Priorities and Funding – Community Networks
Community Networks support the Community Panels through developing the Neighbourhood investment plan. The Community Networks are open to all and are facilitated by Local Council Members and Cumberland Officers.
Community Networks are more informal than Community Panels and allow opportunities for individuals and organisations to be involved. The Community Networks will soon be circulating the next dates to get involved, this provides an opportunity to discuss local needs and aid in setting priorities for geographical communities.
Community Panels will be the decision making panels for local investment and devolved funding. This Panel will not be responsible for funds for commissioning or those that support statutory functions but will contain those individual pots of funding previously delivered through Cumbria County Council i.e. 0-19 funds. Separate applications are no longer required for individual pots, one application for one pot of funding for the geographical area.
Where applications cover more than one geographical area, they only need to fill in one application form and select the multiple areas they are applying for.
Community Panels consist of Local Members Cumberland Officer and up to 3 additional co-opted local representatives. Panels do not have to co-opt additional representatives, but if they choose to, they must live or deliver services locally and must complete an expression of interest form. This process will occur annually and will begin in the next 6 weeks.
There are currently some council-wide grants – these are the grants being reviewed over the coming months, and the future process will be considered as part of that review.
Westmorland and Furness
Meet the Councils Event: Westmorland and Furness – Thursday 12 October 2023.
Introduction, Overview and Delivery Framework
Alison Hatcher (Deputy CEO W&F) – please see attached presentation
Workshop 1: Community Power
Tracy Ingham (Assistant Director, Safe and Strong Communities) and Karen Johnson (Senior Manager, Safe and Strong Communities) – please see attached presentation
Key points from Presentation:
- W&F aim to empower communities by providing them with a greater say
- Pass decision making to communities, acknowledging lived experience, knowledge, skills and local assets
- Opportunities for communities to be a partner and be involved in service design and policy development
- Delivered through multiagency reference group – involving VCSFE, Town Councils and strategic partners
- Open to VCSFE sectors views on other ways to achieve this aim
Questions from Council to attendees and Feedback
- Initial thoughts on this approach?
- How can this be delivered?
- What are the opportunities this brings?
Attendees noted that for this to succeed that Council staff need to be involved at all levels. This could be achieved through Officers attending sessions for VCSFE on the ground, volunteering or attending events.
This could be realised by using existing pathways of communication, rather than creating new networks. Driving opportunities and questions to be involved through these pathways. Suggested pathways included: Third Sector Network, VCSFE Alliance, Compass.
VCSFE need clear contacts on who to reach out to if they have a particular need from W&F. Circulate details of Community Development Officers, what they can help with.
W&F Council could develop a pledge to working with the VCSFE sector. Committing to work differently, with communities, this could also include opportunities or key points in time to feedback to one another.
Clear and consistent communications from comms teams – detailing new initiatives and opportunities for involvement at early stages.
Conversations with Communities need to begin at early stages, true co-production.
Closing Comments – Post Event commitment to:
- Increase regular engagement and co-design
- Share contact information (below)
- Investigate those pathways for communication and joint working
- Share a method/contact to open communication to discuss any future ideas on ways of working
This link provides details of local Area Managers and Community Development Officers who will work with groups and who will also be a good conduit into the organisation should they need it, but these have also been listed below:
Eden Community Development Team
Westmorland and Furness Council
Penrith CA11 7YG
Telephone: 01768 812660
Area Manager: Nick Wright
Mob: 07870 153202
Public Health Locality Manager: Cathryn Beckett
Mob: 07900 666203
Community Development Officers:
Amy Frith (Alston and East Fellside; Penrith; Vale of Eden)
Mob: 07814 481177
Kellie Bradburn-Sims (Eden Fells; Upper Eden)
Mob: 07827 232479
Community Development Assistant:
Mob: 07469 441783
Eden Area Support
Furness Area Team
Community Development Team
Barrow Town Hall
Barrow-in-Furness LA14 2LD
Area Manager (Furness): Alison Meadows
Community Development Officer : Simonetta Tiribocchi
Community Development Assistant : Decelia Benson-Gee
Engagement Officer: Natalie Chapples
Furness Area Support
South Lakeland Community Development Team
Cumbria County Council
Area Manager: Michael Conefrey
Telephone: 07974 446131
Public Health Locality Manager: To be confirmed
Community Development Officers:
Louise Foster: Kendal
Carol Last: Grange and Cartmel, High Furness, Low Furness and Ulverston, South Westmorland.
Gillian Holmes: Central Lakes, Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale, Upper Kent.
Community Development Assistant: Karen Charlesworth
South Lakeland Area Support
Please click on link for further details regarding funding:
Community Funding: Community Fund | Westmorland and Furness Council
Workshop 2: Community Infrastructure
David Haughian (Assistant Director, Community Infrastructure) and Steph Cordon (Director, Thriving Communities) – please see attached presentation
Making Places and Spaces inclusive, particularly in relation to:
- Deaf people
- People with Learning Disabilities
- People with Dementia
- Autism (and the possibility of Autism Hubs)
- Transport to places and spaces
ACTION: Lots of organisations to pick up individual conversations with David H.
How can W&F Council engage more locally?
- Feels very big and distant compared to the old districts
- Not sure who’s who (and who’s making decisions on how local money is spent)
- Community Hubs might be a solution here
ACTION: W&F to consider sending round a structure chart.
The third sector can lobby and influence nationally in a way that a Council can’t – use Cumbria CVS!
Workshop 3: Commissioning
Sharon Smith (Assistant Director Commissioning & Procurement) and Alison Hatcher (Deputy CEO, W&F) – no presentation.
Sharon gave an input on the last six months, as well as an overview of the direction for the next 6 months. The recent focus has been on ‘keeping the lights on’, with the last 5-6 weeks focused on getting various contracts sorted. These have varied between small, people-focused contracts and large, capital-focused contracts. The next six months will focus on the commissioning strategy, including producing a social value statement. Towards the end of the first year, there will also be the development of a procurement strategy. This will consider transparency, decision making, making money go further and what the procurement process looks like.
1. Recognition that it’s good to get together and understand what’s happening. Query around how to get started in progressing services.
Response – Importance of trying to meet recognised needs. Keen to develop Eden and this query would be worth a further conversation. There is more need in some parts of the area. Sharon explained that there is a commissioning contact email address, which she will share. Sharon also discussed a portal to advertise opportunities. Sharon is happy to help link local organisations with relevant commissioners and contacts.
2. A query based around the reorganisation of grants with the change to Westmorland and Furness Council. When and how will grants be continued going forwards.
Response – Work is still ongoing to ensure W&F are being efficient and effective with grant making. Grants sit within the Community team. The process is not set for 2024/2025.
3. What are the new methods of working with the third sector?
Response – Sharon discussed the history of rolling over contracts, but they are now taking opportunities as a new council. Sharon talked about engaging with service users to establish need, engaging with providers early on, provider forums as a way of engaging with providers and consultation.
The importance of capitalising on the Third Sector Network or other networks that already exist was highlighted, rather than beginning again.
Cumbria CVS also noted the importance of a collaborative approach and thinking of the voluntary sector when ‘going to market’.
Response – the Council are keen to explore parts of the voluntary and community sector to work in collaboration. Perhaps covering a larger geographical area. The importance of being stronger together. Keen to accept collaboration and partnership. Sharon mentioned sharing templates around procurement for Westmorland and Furness and if they make that clear.
4. Will parish councils and charities be part of the delivery of the Council’s plan? If so, how can the Council get parish councils to work together?
Response – The Council are keen to accept collaborative and joint bids. This is an area for a more detailed conversation.
5. Comment – Westmorland and Furness is a large area. Importance of voluntary organisations at a district level. The provider forums could be linked to Locality Board level, rather than a wide level. There is a need for provider forums at a district level. There is tremendous diversity across W&F. The challenge Cumbria CVS has faced in bringing everyone together over a huge area was acknowledged and affirmed. Within this, the importance of empowering local communities was mentioned.
6. The first comment was that the Council might not know what services are being provided around the county.
The Council will use existing networks to come and listen and to share information. There was an affirmation that there is so much happening, and it is difficult to be aware of it all. The commissioning mailbox was mentioned again – the voluntary sector could invite the team to events. The Council would want to avoid coming up with contracts for services that are already happening.
7. The second comment was focused on recognition of the social value of organisations.
The social value that organisations bring was duly noted and the new procurement process the Council are building up to.
Cumbria CVS raised the question of how we can better coordinate access to the third sector, in terms of social value.
- Sharon discussed the balance of price, quality and social value
- She noted the importance of being clear – this is what we are looking for
- The importance of finding out what’s happening locally
- The local service might not cover everything
The Council wants to explore the local offer. Providers may be able to offer some of the service but may need collaboration to cover all the requirements. The Council are trying to get ‘upstream’ rather than ‘doing what we’ve always done.’ There are time constraints though. The Council are trying to be more proactive that reactive. Coordination of the offer is key, highlighting areas of duplication, areas where contracts have existed for a long time. Importance of market stability. Sharon again shared her commitment to talk more.
Cumbria CVS recognised the challenge of coordination between commissioning and the Third Sector.
Need for an open, face to face meeting. Need for the human side, with more understanding. This would be helpful for smaller organisations and may open opportunities for collaboration. A longer lead time for bidding for contracts would be hugely beneficial.
Commitment to ‘the local’ in procurement. Really support the idea of networking events when tenders are advertised.
ACTION: to share the following emails/contacts:
• Commissioning email: Commissioning.WAF@cumbria.gov.uk
• Link to the “The Chest” commissioning portal https://www.the-chest.org.uk/
• Community Funding: Community Fund | Westmorland and Furness Council