CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES AFFECTING LOCAL GOVERNMENT - FULL REPORT, 1999

Executive Summary

Introduction

There is growing recognition that many of the challenges facing society require a joint response by central and local government, often involving many departments, agencies and local authority functions. But joint working has not proved easy, and policy implementation suffers as a result. This report draws on research on five issues: Community Safety, Disaffected Youth, Regeneration, Social Exclusion and Sustainable Development, and involved interviews in central government, a review of the literature, and case studies in six localities - Cheshire/Chester, Mendip/Somerset, Newcastle, Sheffield, Thurrock, and Tower Hamlets.

The literature relating to central local relations and to policy implementation provides an understanding of the processes involved. Understanding of the developing tensions within central-local relations, studies of new contractual and multi-agency delivery systems, and learning about organisational interests and internal circuits of power from organisational sociology all challenge a linear 'top down' model of policy implementation in relation to cross-cutting issues. Tensions within and between different 'players' leads to an implementation gap. To understand these tensions we need to look at the drivers for organisational behaviour.

A whole systems framework

A 'whole-system' approach derived from studies of organisational behaviour seeks to understand the behaviour of 'organisational players' in terms of the influences of drivers and counter-drivers within the 'whole system', which can interact to generate problematic patterns of behaviour. It demands recognition of the interaction of all key agencies at central and local government levels. The main features of the model are nine key 'system elements' - direction, consultation, structure, systems, organisation, culture, capacity motivation and evaluation. 

Research Findings

In none of the cross-cutting issues is there an unambiguously defined central government definition either of the 'problem' or the desired outcomes. There is little agreement about cause and effect and therefore about 'what works' - and, in particular, what preventative measures may be effective, or what the balance should be between alleviation of current symptoms and longer term measures.

At the local level, a wide range of innovative community involvement practice in consultation now exists and there are creative multi-lateral initiatives building sustained dialogue with communities, and engaging with previously 'unheard' groups, such as young people. Consultation by the centre has been widespread, but seen as too rushed, and there are a few listening and feedback loops allowing central or regional government to learn alongside local government.

Rigid structures - protected geographical, professional, or departmental boundaries - inhibit effective inter-organisational or inter-departmental working and make cross-cutting initiatives hard work. Departmental compartmentalisation remains strong in Whitehall, whilst inside local authorities strong departments claim most resources for mainstream and statutory responsibilities, driving cross-cutting issues to the margin. Government Offices for the Regions could offer a more integrated regional policy focus. 'Zones' offer potential for innovative integration, but clarification of the role and purpose of zone initiatives is essential if a 'zonitis' disease is to be avoided.

Systems dominate and new initiatives have often been defined in process terms, and valuable resources are often expended in setting up partnerships or project teams, in establishing working procedures, in writing bids or delivery plans. Where local capacity is weak, explicit central guidance assists these processes. But in local areas where experience of integrated working is growing and capacity is stronger, excessive system management is seen as being inflexible, unhelpful and inhibiting to joint working.

In terms of organisation at local level, new flatter management systems, horizontal working groups, and interagency projects have begun to cut across conventional structures in innovative ways. However, the pressure of mainstream departments means that responsibility and accountability for cross-cutting issues is often weaker than for conventional service delivery. Traditional bureaucratic practice, proliferation of meetings, duplication of work, maintains a hold especially at middle management level.

Policy delivery is heavily influenced by organisational culture which varies between: a compliance culture which treats new initiatives largely in terms of conforming with required procedures; a survival culture which treats new initiatives as 'noise in the system', and by indulging inertia and avoidance of taking responsibility, inducing failure to implement; 'Can-do' activism rejects constraints and obstacles and reflects a determination to make things happen (if sometimes without reflection about the real problems of implementation); whilst a culture of strategic implementation is grounded in shared thinking and understanding about the long term, joint problem ownership and sustained motivation.

New skills and capacities are essential - particularly strategic capacities, and skills in listening, negotiation, leadership through influence, partnership working, performance management and evaluation.

In terms of motivation, central government incentives and rewards tend to drive system compliance. Often completion of process (submission of delivery plan) dominates, with no additional reward or recognition for achieving real results. There are disincentives to radical thinking and action.

Evaluation remains fragile with more emphasis on monitoring or formula driven approaches to output assessment than long term outcome evaluation. Short termism remains dominant in monitoring, and evaluation for the long term (e.g. longitudinal tracking of populations, comparison of area baselines with long term impacts) is rare. Evaluation of preventive initiatives is inherently difficult methodologically, but outcome measurement is essential if cross-cutting initiatives are to be shown to be of value. The tension between the long time scale required for such initiatives to show an impact and short political time horizons is seen as the major impediment. There is insufficient rigorous analysis of the value for money of different approaches, and feedback mechanisms are weak. The lack of criteria for success means that initiatives proceed 'blind'. However, there are signs of innovative evaluation work at both local and national level.

Conclusions

A number of powerful drivers are creating conditions at local level where new and more effective responses to cross-cutting issues are possible - unitary status, new management paradigms, responsiveness to users and local communities, and recognition of a new local governance involving multi-stakeholder involvement and partnership. There is a real shift towards change, and we have found considerable positive action on cross-cutting issues at local level. There remain real difficulties, however, and even 'good practice' localities are struggling. Positive drivers towards integrated action at national and regional levels seem weaker. We found a wider range of negative drivers at regional and national level.

No single one of the nine factors can cause successful or unsuccessful implementation. If only one were to be changed, no appreciable difference would be made. Each is a contributing factor - what is important is the extent to which the several elements reinforce each other. Reinforcement can occur through a cycle of negative reinforcement or a cycle of positive reinforcement (see below), and our lessons for future action are therefore aimed at challenging or interrupting negative reinforcement, and encouraging positive reinforcement. Negative cycles need to be broken; the reinforcement of positive cycles supported.

The whole system framework is a useful diagnostic tool. The difficulties experienced in joint working to address the cross-cutting issues can be understood in terms of the often perverse interactions between elements in the system. It is important not simply to point out negative organisational or individual behaviours, but to understand the factors that contribute to these behaviours. National government and civil servants cannot see themselves as outside the system, as observers or monitors, since their actions crucially influence other players.

Breaking the cycle means working to share the definition of problems and outcomes, better learning and capacity building, clear accountability for goals and incentives for achieving them, greater local freedom to act and better evaluation of what works.

Lessons for the policy process

We believe that the policy process for cross-cutting issues would be improved if the following changes were to be made (a more detailed set of lessons for future policy management can be found later on in the document).

Direction

  • Set time aside to agree definitions of problems, share analysis and build consistent social policy goals (locally and nationally).
  • Establish practice exchange bringing together local, regional and central government - across professional boundaries - including multiple stakeholders and community representatives.
  • Make clear which problems and outcomes are to be defined at national level - and where problems, strategies and outcomes should be defined locally, and align the processes and systems to make this possible.
  • Key local stakeholders - central and local - should set time aside to explore and analyse local cross-cutting issues, and develop shared local outcome goals and strategies.
  • Politicians and policy makers, centrally and locally, need to recognise the value of long term early preventive measures. The political system should reflect the contribution of politicians and civil servants to longer term achievements with ministers carrying responsibility for cross-cutting issues alongside their departmental responsibilities.

Consultation

  • Create opportunities for central and regional government staff to take part in consultation and learning from local communities, the voluntary sector and business.
  • Develop and support innovative approaches to community consultation, encouraging local authorities to experiment and match methodologies to local needs and capacities.

Structure

  • Government Offices for the Regions should play a more proactive role in bringing local knowledge into the policy process and bridging between central and local government.
  • Harmonise geographical boundaries; where this is not possible, give priority to making boundaries more permeable.
  • Enable the creation of new organisational forms, 'virtual organisations', integrated delivery networks with integrated systems and resources.
  • Clarify the purpose of 'zones' - and align systems around them; link zone based initiatives to surrounding areas through integration and practice exchange.

Systems

  • Simplify bidding systems, creating fewer hoops, more integrated monitoring, and rigorous evaluation of results (nationally and locally).
  • Enable longer term, more flexible budgeting, scope to reconfigure resources, without losing tight accountability (and locally apply the same principles to non-statutory support).
  • Create scope for greater experiment and innovation.
  • Widen the scope for local authorities to bid for resources - to include licensing and accreditation; apply 'bright beacon' status to cross-cutting performance.

Organisation

  • Encourage new political and managerial arrangements at local level - reinforced by new ways of working, accountability, management and staff support.
  • Draw on learning about what makes partnerships work - building shared objectives and setting up joint training, co-location, partnering contracts etc.

Culture

  • Develop greater awareness of organisational culture, using cultural diagnosis and audit to examine barriers to change and plan cultural change.
  • Use performance management, appraisal, reward systems etc. to challenge system survival and system compliance behaviours.

Capacity

  • Invest in capacity at all levels, including strategic capacity and new skills. Local politicians, as well as managers, need opportunities to learn.
  • Encourage investment in preventive measures; set up a local venture capital fund available for long term preventative measures and for experimentation on cross-cutting issues.
  • Establish a 'licensing' or 'accrediting' system which could offer individual local authorities additional powers (or probably more important, freedom from specific constraints); develop 'bright beacon' status for cross-cutting good practice.
  • Disseminate good practice across professional boundaries - giving opportunities for active feedback and exploration of applicability where possible.

Motivation

  • Design incentive and reward systems to reinforce effective implementation.
  • Focus performance management on outcomes rather than process.
  • Celebrate success; reward innovation and learning, and encouraging sensible risk taking.
  • Develop local skills in risk appraisal and management.

Evaluation

  • Work to improve evaluation systems, and to establish outcome measures, tackling the methodological problems identified.
  • Encourage local partnerships to use pragmatic (as good as practicable) evaluation, with imperfect outcome measures rather than rely on system output measures; support local evaluation approaches.
  • Engage residents/users in establishing outcome indicators and assessing the impact of interventions on their lives.

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Aims and approach

One of the long-standing observations about public policy is its failure to address issues which cut across organisational boundaries. Such policy failure has been described in terms of the failure to develop 'joined-up thinking'; programmes are described as being stored in 'silos'; departmentalism and professionalism have reinforced cultures of introspection; central-local government relations resound with 'dissonance'.

A key theme of the Government's approach in the last year has been to address the perceived absence of policy integration, and to develop policies and practices which both encourage integration and cross departmental working, and support concepts of governance - the involvement of many stakeholders from different sectors in the processes of governing (as opposed to reliance on the formal machinery of central and local government).

Early in 1998 the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) commissioned a research project from the University of the West of England (UWE) and the Office for Public Management (OPM) on the ways in which local government was affected by such cross-cutting issues, and how authorities were addressing the challenge of managing change in ways of working within and between organisations in order to address such issues.

Four issues were selected for study - sustainable development, community safety, disaffected youth, and social exclusion. In addition, given the importance of regeneration as a model for integrated working in practice, this fifth issue was added. However the focus of the research has been primarily on policy process rather than content; our concerns have been about how policy is made and delivered, not about what policies actually are. Although our research has extended into central government and other organisations with a national perspective, our primary focus has been on what is happening at local level and how this is affected by what happens in the centre.

We have looked at what is happening in six very different localities1 through the eyes of many different stakeholders, and a variety of organisations at central and local levels. Details of the research approach are included in Appendix 3. Inevitably we have found a great richness of experience and diversity of perception, and the report reflects the differing and sometimes conflicting views we heard as well as the many common themes. It is a feature of inter-organisational working that failure is often perceived as being 'the other person's fault'. Since players in the system are driven by their perceptions, these perceptions matter if we are seeking to understand behaviours and bring about change.2

Change has been continuous over the past two decades, and shows no sign of abating. The public sector, under the previous government was subject to a rising tide of changes to introduce competition, develop purchaser/provider splits, transfer some functions to agencies or to the private sector, to introduce private sector management practice and to focus attention on cost reduction. There is widespread acceptance that this focused attention on efficiency rather than effectiveness. Local government faced the introduction of CCT, several changes in funding systems and consequential reductions in funding. In many county areas local government reorganisation has involved changes to two tier government and the emergence of unitary authorities.

Over the past year local government has had to respond to a succession of new policy initiatives, and a far-reaching agenda for local government reform. There is a new climate of collaboration between central and local government. Local government is keen to grasp the opportunities offered, and there are encouraging developments, but it is too early to come to definite conclusions about 'what works' in process, as with policy. But since it is the interaction of all these changes that is creating both opportunities and problems, it is important to study what is happening now rather than waiting for stability.

1.2 The Issues3

1.2.1 Community Safety

The currently recognised term: community safety did not exist fifteen years ago. Before then 'crime prevention' was about reducing opportunities to commit crime mostly by fortifying or disabling property. Even crime prevention as a concept only became established through the situational research and guidance issued in the 1980s. Previously it had been assumed that potential criminals would be deterred by the full force of the criminal justice system. It became apparent, however, during the 1960s and 1970s, that police, courts and prisons (the main components of the criminal justice system) were having negligible impact on the huge rise in crime over that period. It was only when situational crime prevention had failed to deliver all it promised in the mid 1980s that there emerged the understanding that, as crime has so many causes and consequences, only a complex overlapping series of interventions, at the macro and micro levels, would have much effect. Thus the concept of community safety was born; a concept that also recognises the locational dimension of crime (all offences occur in some 'place/ community'). Importantly community safety recognises that there is more to the quality of life than the mere prevention of crime (even assuming that is entirely possible) - we need also to reduce fear and to support victims. However, one of the consequences of this move to a broader understanding of what constitutes a safe community, is the recognition and requirement that a far wider range of actors, than just the criminal justice professionals, need to engage with the problem. Thus community safety became a 'cross-cutting issue' that did not fit neatly within traditional boundaries of expertise and responsibility. As the Morgan Report succinctly put it: "The reality is that crime prevention is a peripheral concern for all the agencies, and a truly core activity for none of them, even those agencies which explicitly include crime prevention within their objectives, such as the police and the probation service".

1.2.2 Disaffected Youth

It is unclear whether disaffected youth have problems, or are problems. Over the years, the policy pendulum has swung from one perspective to the other, and the many agencies involved operate within fundamentally different and often conflicting paradigms.

Juvenile crime, anti-social behaviour, truancy, the disengagement of young people from democratic processes - all are seen by adult society as a threat to societal stability and order. But there is also growing recognition of the fact that in the face of global economic forces young people are increasingly marginalised in the labour market, vulnerable in the housing market, and weakly supported by benefit systems. When support from family, school, peer group, and community breaks down, this creates vulnerability and the start of cumulative disconnection from established institutions. However, it is a mistake to infer disaffection from behaviour, or to assume that disaffected young people are always fundamentally different from other young people.

The concept of 'disaffected youth' has tended to be defined by agencies working either to help young people or to deal with the consequences of their behaviour. Together with the very diverse characteristics of young people and their problems, this has contributed to a fragmented view of the issues and to lack of co-ordination in approaches. There is not and never has been a coherent response to the problems of 'disaffected youth'. Different professionals have addressed different manifestations of the problem: child abuse and family breakdown; unemployment; educational under-achievement; drugs; street homelessness; crime and anti-social behaviour. Conflicts between agencies responsible for dealing with the problems of and the problems caused by young people have inhibited cohesive action addressed at tackling root causes rather than alleviating symptoms of disaffection. Currently new programmes (e.g. New Start) together with a range of initiatives relating to youth justice, social care, education, training, housing, health and substance abuse reflect attempts to develop a more integrated approach.

1.2.3 Regeneration

Regeneration policies and programmes have evolved from the 'traditional' Urban Programme of the late 1960s and 1970s through the Inner Cities programme into a wider regeneration programme currently open to all localities, urban and rural, large and small. The focus and content of regeneration work has moved from the predominantly property and development orientation of the 1980s to the more rounded socio-economic focus of the mid 1990s. Much of the literature traces the fragmentation of institutional form and the proliferation of new single purpose agencies in the 'Thatcher years' and the emergence of a more integrated but essentially competitive and contractual regime of the 1990s.

Funding for regeneration (the Single Regeneration Budget) has in practice resourced much of what has been done in relation to Exclusion, Safety, Youth and Sustainability. Regeneration working has fostered new approaches in a number of localities unfamiliar with integrated programmes or with partnership. It has begun, however, to raise questions about the costs as well as the benefits of partnership as well as about the familiar topics such as the merits of an area based approach, the relationship with 'main' programmes, the relative merits of main programmes or special initiatives, and whether to concentrate on a small number of most disadvantaged areas. The outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review identified 800m. of spending on the New Commitment to Communities, as well as a reshaping of SRB to focus four fifths of the resources on the most deprived areas with the remainder tackling deprivation outside these areas.

1.2.4 Social Exclusion

The roots of the social exclusion debate are found in the European social policy and in the anti-poverty literature. Exclusion differs from poverty in recognising access and inaccessibility as key explanations for social disadvantage, and by identifying the systemic factors which, separately or in combination, drive marginal individuals or groups into 'exclusion'. Excluded groups are trapped by structural circumstances, and systematic reinforcement of poverty, homelessness, and unemployment is widespread - often over generations. There is, for example, a strong link between poverty, housing tenure and social exclusion as housing circumstances reflect exclusion but also reinforce and perpetuate it. Traditional structures of socialisation - family, school, work, church - no longer fulfil their accustomed function. Economic exclusion (labour market disadvantage) is reinforced by isolation from support networks (of family or welfare state), with educational and health services offered at low levels of service and/or high cost. Socio-economic exclusion is reinforced by political and sometimes legally enforced exclusion. Marginal populations may have no formal political visibility, whilst exclusion can also be formalised through the absence of rights (e.g. to welfare).

Social Exclusion has only recently entered the language of policy in the UK and is reflected in the work of the Social Exclusion Unit, where attention has initially been focused on three specific aspects - truancy and school exclusions, rough sleepers, and addressing the problems of the worst housing estates.

1.2.5 Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is one of the most widely expressed aspirations of current public policy throughout the EU and within the UK. The concept entered the international political agenda following the Brundtland Report, and has its roots in recognition of the limited carrying capacity of the natural environment, and of the inter-relatedness, on a global scale, of the problems associated with the depletion and non-renewal of resources. It attempts to draw together the paradigms of environmental science, focusing upon measurement and prediction, and those of management and social science, since it is self-evident that environmental problems can have only socio-political and socio-economic solutions. The original definition included equity and futurity as pre-requisites for the conservation and protection of resources, and the concept has now variously been extended to include aspects of community, cultural, institutional and economic well-being.

The goal of 'sustainability' is recognised as an essential ingredient across a whole range of economic and social disciplines and programmes. 'Sustainable Growth and Employment' is a key chapter in the Comprehensive Spending Review; the new duty on local councils to promote the well-being of their areas will 'put sustainable development at the heart of council decision making'. However, the breadth and all-embracing nature of the concept when defined holistically in social and economic terms creates huge practical difficulties for both policy generation and implementation. This section of the report concentrates primarily on the environmental issues since sustainability also lies at the heart of community safety and regeneration policies. Establishing cause, effect and significance, both immediate and more especially longer-term, of the many environmental consequences of human activity is in itself hugely problematic. Applying internationally agreed precautionary principles is hindered by the problems of definition, measurement, attribution of value and appropriate indicators. Conceptual difficulties are compounded by a lack of understanding and agreement as to the extent to which different elements of the capital of 'sustainability' may be substitutable, i.e. whether an increase in human knowledge can compensate for resource losses.

There is also tension between, on the one hand, the dominant UK policy paradigm which sees responsibility resting essentially in enlightened individual and community responsibility at the local level, with the state role that of facilitator; and on the other hand, the view that a top-down, internationally managed framework driving business and capital into more environmentally and socially beneficial forms of production is essential. Perhaps even more importantly, there is the inherent dichotomy in westernised economies between the traditional policies and practices of economic growth, which stress competitiveness and exploitation of 'free goods', and environmental and social well-being. The extent to which change is demanded at the core of central policy-making if development in the UK is to become sustainable is clear from the breadth and scope of the activities of the UK Round Table on Sustainable Development, and the current UK government consultation paper 'Opportunities for Change'.

1.2.6 Interaction between the issues

Although there are variations between them, the five issues chosen all interact closely one with another. In particular, social exclusion, disaffected youth, and community safety have much in common, and many of the cross-cutting, inter-organisational aspirations for young people, for safer neighbourhoods, or for social inclusion, are in practice reflected in regeneration initiatives. Sustainable development, although differing in a number of respects, raises many of the same issues - for example, about inter-organisational behaviour and community involvement. Setting boundaries to these issues in the real world is difficult and often unproductive; so it has been for the research and in consequence we have organised the bulk of the material around cross-cutting themes rather than around the five issues individually or around the six localities.

1.3 Structure of the report

Section 2 of the report draws on the literature of policy studies, organisational sociology, and political science to inform our thinking about organisational change, and presents a 'whole systems framework' around which the remainder of the report is structured. Using this framework, Section 3 presents the main empirical material drawn from the case studies and our interviews in central government, whilst Section 4 draws conclusions and Section 5 identifies some implications for the process of policy formulation and implementation.

Chapter 2: A whole systems framework

In the previous section we argued that the complex nature of cross-cutting issues demands a new approach to policy development and implementation, and that the current local government environment creates the opportunity for such change. In this section we refer briefly to the literature relating to the policy process4, and outline the whole-systems framework which we have used to analyse this process in our research.

2.1 From policy into action

The policy/implementation relationship is complex and intransigent. The literature points unambiguously to the fact that the policy/implementation chain rarely conforms to the idealised top-down linear model, and in practice there is often an 'implementation gap' in which policy does not get translated into action in the way policy makers intended. The relationship between policy and action is best understood in the light of three strands of literature - the literature of central-local state relations, the literature of implementation and the literature of organisational (and inter-organisational) political sociology.

2.1.1 Central-local state relations

One of the obvious problems has been that central policy is often implemented through local government, which has some autonomy. Much of the literature on central-local relations in the last fifteen years has been directed to discussion of the implications of Thatcherism for the centralisation of State functions and for the dilution of local autonomy and democracy in the face of the quangos of the 1980s and the 'new' public management of the first half of the 1990s. This literature has emphasised the extent to which the capacity of local government was weakened by the loss of statutory powers and duties and by a reduction in financial autonomy. The shift of functions to a range of non-local governmental bodies shifted the local balance of power in terms of implementation, although this was matched by an increasing role for the centre in terms of planning and control. Integrated Regional Offices were seen as enhancing both Town Hall and Whitehall. The Government's White Paper 'Modern Local Government' moves to a reversal of these tendencies and towards the rehabilitation of local democracy, but many of the features which have characterised change in the last twenty years will remain and local governance is moving forward rather than returning to the past.

A related, and in some ways contradictory, theme has been that of the hollowing out of the nation state. Faced with the growing influence of Brussels, the shift to agencies of much central government executive activity, and the decentralising tendencies evidenced by regionalisation and latterly a renewed local democracy, central government is increasingly focussing on 'core executive' functions. The centre does not directly run so much, but concentrates instead on maximising policy influence, and particularly influence over budgets, through what has been termed 'bureau shaping'. As the centre loses its functions, if not its budgetary control, so it becomes more reliant on other organisations for implementation (agencies, local authorities, partnerships etc.). So while local government has lost some autonomy, central government has lost some control. The field has become more unmanageable and less susceptible to consistent management from either centre or periphery. Thus local government has lost much of its capacity to deliver, while the centre has lost much if its capacity to control. In this environment the old control and compliance model does not work.

2.1.2 Implementation

At the same time, new models of implementation are emerging, and there is greater diversity of delivery systems. In recent decades there has been reliance on the market (with increasing market regulation) combined with more long standing professional and procedural inspection. Establishment of ad hoc organisational forms (often quangos) characterised the 1980s but latterly there has been a shift to competitive bidding combined with contractualisation and contract compliance. An active local partnership has been a condition of participation in SRB regeneration activity. Partnership was (in the late 1970s) a vertical central-local coalition with central government directly involved. Now partnership is a horizontal local/local coalition with central government as controller and contractor rather than partner.

Implementation, however, is not simply a matter of control of agencies with greater or lesser autonomy. There is a large literature which argues that the 'implementation gap' emerges for a host of reasons. For some the gap occurs because the top down flow from policy is imperfect - poor communication, inadequate resource allocation, poor policy specification. For others the implementation gap occurs because there is a separate implementation culture which derives from the bottom-up. This is a function of the inevitable freedom of action and scope for discretion which lies with those who implement and who are beyond the reach of the centre. Thus implementation structures, street level bureaucracy, and the discretion open to front line staff, may all distort policy intention. Some argue indeed that policy is merely the product of action feeding upwards and that insofar as this stems from a responsive, community oriented culture it is a positive feature of the policy process. Given that the capacity of government (central and local) is limited by the attitudes and behaviour of front-line staff, the literature of the sociology of organisations - and of organisational development - is of wider relevance to the debate.

2.1.3 Organisational politics

Lastly there is a related literature deriving from political science and political sociology which emphasises power in organisations and looks to structure rather than agency as the determinant of organisational behaviour and hence successful implementation. Organisations are endowed with the power of their key interests (professional, political, administrative, occasionally users) and the delivery of policy is a function of the power struggles which flow through the 'circuits of power'. There are useful links both with the literature of decision and non-decision making, and with studies of bargaining and negotiation. This in turn links to the literature on differential power within partnership structures, and the implications of the distribution of power for commitment to and action for implementation.

2.2 The whole systems approach

Findings from the literature thus challenge a simple linear approach to policy implementation - which assumes a process of central policy design, followed by the application of an implementation system, the establishment of mechanisms to ensure system compliance, and the subsequent monitoring (and enforcement where necessary) of compliance. An emphasis upon system design and compliance is predicated on the assumption that objectives are clear and unambiguous, and that desired outcomes, together with the mechanisms to achieve these outcomes, are certain and are known to and accepted by all the parties to implementation. If this is not the case, system compliance cannot be assured. Lack of clarity about both objectives and desired outcomes, together with the complexity of cross-cutting issues and their variable incidence and form, suggests that success in achieving outcomes requires clarification of the problems being addressed before the event, with solutions being developed and negotiated locally, and tailored to meet the local configuration of actors and their needs and capacities. This is the approach now being tested in many of the government's current initiatives.

Figure 1

 A linear 'top down' model of policy implementation in relation to cross-cutting issues

Within complex, multi-organisational delivery systems, government policy is not the sole driver of change, and the behaviour and actions of regulators, monitors, civil servants and others in private and not for profit sectors directly impact on the policy/delivery system. Thus the delivery of cross-cutting solutions must recognise that all organisations are active players, that all environmental drivers need to be taken into account, and that in order to respond appropriately, all organisations - central and local government, public, private, and not-for-profit, and community sectors - need to recognise the interconnectedness of the issues.

It has been observed that multi-dimensional problems often receive single dimensional interventions. The simple hypotheses of our research work were first, that multi-dimensional problems require multi-dimensional interventions, and second, that in order to incorporate the multi-dimensional approach into public policy a clearer organising framework of ideas was necessary. The language of integration, cross-cutting, and multi-stakeholder involvement is now commonplace. But there remains a large gap between joined-up talking and joined-up working.

2.2.1 Systems thinking

Systems thinking is a conceptual framework, a body of knowledge and a large and amorphous set of methods developed over the past fifty years to clarify the interrelationships between the different elements in a complex situation, and to identify ways of bringing about desired change. With its origins in cybernetics and ecology, systems thinking is now widely applied in the study of human systems and in the management of organisations.

Systems thinking is based on the premise that complex systems need to be understood in terms of the interactions between parts of the system, and between the system and its environment. These interactions involve feedback loops, whereby elements in the system 'feed' influence and information to each other over time; this feedback may produce self-reinforcing patterns of growth or decline, or a tendency towards equilibrium.

In the context of this research, the 'system' can be thought of as the totality of the organisations of central and local government, and other players involved in formulating and implementing policy. Citizens may be thought of either as part of the system - or as part of the environment.

Organisational players are presumed to behave rationally in response to the drivers and counter-drivers they face. These drivers will include 'soft' elements such as internal politics as well as 'hard' ones such as financial flows. Players respond in the light of their perceptions rather than any objectively defined 'reality', and rationality is bounded in that players generally have incomplete information.

We have used this framework to analyse the policy development and implementation process and to identify ways in which this might be improved. It can equally be used to analyse the cross-cutting issues themselves; indeed, such a perspective is explicit in the government's approach to these issues. In this context, systems thinking is a helpful tool in analysing patterns of causality and thinking about the consequences of possible policy interventions.

2.2.2 Elements in the system

In order to organise the research and to unravel the complexity we have broken the 'whole system' into nine components (see Figure 2 opposite).

Direction: the definition of problems, the analysis of underlying mechanisms of cause and effect, the aims and objectives of policy, and the interpretation and communication of policy meanings by different actors

Consultation: the process by which stakeholders become involved in the policy process, including consultation between central and local government, and user and citizen engagement

Structure: the intra and inter-organisational structures together with the political, administrative, and professional arrangements which provide the opportunities for, or set limits to, the scope for joint working

Systems: the financial, budgetary, management, information, monitoring, and performance systems through which governance is administered

Organisation: the processes which determine the use of human resources in and between organisations, the allocation of work, and the distribution of organisational power

Culture: the values, language, and meanings which underpin attitudes and behaviour within and between organisations

Capacity: the skills (strategic, operational, analytical, and interpersonal), and the resources (financial, human, physical and technological) which support action

Motivation: the reward systems, incentives, sanctions, and points of reference which lead and drive organisational behaviour

Evaluation: the process of assessing processes, outputs and outcomes in order to learn about 'what works', to inform future policy and influence organisational response.

Effective policy implementation requires effectiveness within each component of the system and effective links between them. Our findings indicate that not all of the links between the various elements of the system of governance connect perfectly - many of the feedback flows are weak, or operate perversely. Failure in any single linkage is likely to cause blockage along other lines, to slow the whole system down, and to produce unexpected side effects. The essence of 'whole systems' working is to anticipate the points of system breakdown, to minimise the blockages, to open up the channels of exchange and communication, and to identify the levers and drivers which can reinforce a positive cycle. We return to this in the final section of the report, but the aim of the fieldwork was to use the model to analyse the policy development and implementation system, in order to identify the reasons for dissonance.

Chapter 3: The research findings

This section of the report describes the findings from the research, developed in part from the literature but in larger part from fieldwork in central government and in the six localities.

We have organised our findings under the nine headings of the system elements set out in Chapter 2. Inevitably - since our primary concern is the interaction between elements in the system - many things do not fit neatly under one of the headings and there are overlaps.

3.1 Direction

Cross-cutting issues are characterised by a long history of inconclusive policy debate and research. There is as yet little agreement on 'the problem'. Inter-Departmental rivalry in central government sometimes results in mixed messages reaching local areas, while local players are insufficiently involved in the policy debate. This is causing dissonance between different interpretations of policy, and lack of clarity over the desired outcomes. Whilst this leaves space for local interpretation to suit local circumstances, many local players would value greater clarity.

3.1.1 Lack of agreement on the problem

In none of the cross-cutting issues we examined does there seem to be a sufficient explanation of the cause and effect of the problem, and no unambiguous central government definition either of the 'problem' or the desired outcomes. The consequence is that there is insufficient direction to policy development, and no clear framework for policy implementation. Some definitions are limited to identification of one or more specific operational interpretations of the issue. Social exclusion has been so far interpreted in terms of specific problematic groups - rough sleepers and truants/excluded pupils. Other issues are given different meanings by different departments - as with sustainable development or disaffected youth (preferred by some as disengaged youth). Community safety is often used interchangeably with crime prevention, and social exclusion with poverty. The basic terms - safety, exclusion, sustainability - have been insufficiently thought through.

Differences between Departments This may be because there are genuine and important differences in values and goals between Departments. For example, in relation to youth, the Department of Health (which as 'guardian' of the Children Act which puts child welfare first) has a very different perspective from the Home Office (whose primary goals relate to justice and public safety). Similarly, sustainable development appears to be interpreted by the Treasury in terms of environmental economics, and by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as the environmental performance of business.

A different aspect of failure in issue definition occurs where Departments adopt an issue and 'badge' activities with it. It was clear from our interviews (and confirmed in the Comprehensive Spending Review) that exclusion is being widely adopted by Departments as a theme of policy development in reflection of ministerial priorities. It was less clear that Departments had thought through what exclusion actually means. The CSR therefore has a number of references to 'poverty and social exclusion', to 'the socially excluded and economically disadvantaged', to 'the poorest and most vulnerable', to 'access and social inclusion', as well as to 'exclusion in poor areas', and to 'the poorest communities'. Such adoption of issues and the badging of policies and programmes gives the impression of integrated government but in practice simply avoids collective commitment.

Sometimes, on the other hand, definition is specifically avoided by Departments, perhaps so that conflicts of interest in policy agendas may be disguised. For example, there might be implications for the DTI 'competitiveness' agenda if the environmental effects of certain kinds of economic growth were accounted for fully. In policy contexts such as these it is unrealistic to expect the differences to be resolved locally if they cannot be resolved nationally - 'government cannot expect local agencies to work collaboratively if in the centre they are fighting turf wars'. Ambiguity in the centre translates into confusion on the ground.

Integrating the evidence base This is not to say that there has not been valuable research and thinking around the issues - the DETR research on family, demography and exclusion, for example, other DETR work on environmental capital and the limits to environmental capacity, and the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) research on youth disaffection. The first two reports of the Social Exclusion Unit are widely respected. But our work suggested that this research has not been widely shared, and that the issues have not been subject to integrated conceptual and empirical analysis within Whitehall or between central and local government. Where analysis has been undertaken it has not been distilled into generally understood or accepted definitions. Departments work on the issues as if they want to find an interpretation which suits their own needs. More interdepartmental access to, and use of, research of common relevance to different departments might be made.

In other instances the speed of policy change is inhibiting integration of research. For example, in the case of New Start, a valuable research phase is built into the programme at the outset, but implementation started immediately after the end of the research with little time for reflection on, or interpretation of, the local research for the programme. The consequence is the lack of a firm shared basis upon which to understand what works and why, and hence the lack of a platform on which long term intervention might be predicated.

Engaging the localities The mechanisms for allowing localities to engage with the centre in debate about the nature of problems or the design of solutions are less than effective; neither, despite the rhetoric, is there general acceptance in the centre that such an input would be of value. Thus the Social Exclusion Unit is perceived to be making visits to find out about good practice rather than to discuss or formulate interpretations of the key issues, whilst another department relied for examples of good practice on 'people from the field who bothered to tell us'. One interviewee used the term 'policy tourism' to refer to the outreach activity of central departments. Central departments on the other hand perceive local government as engaging in special pleading for more resources.

3.1.2 Inter-Departmental rivalry

We came across a number of instances where rivalry between Departments is inhibiting the development of policy on cross-cutting issues. What is less clear is the extent to which this is driven by ministers, or their civil servants.

It appears that being seen to make an impact at an early stage with policy development is important to a new political leadership. ministers, we were told, are keen to contribute to a high profile initiative or even to highjack a cross-cutting initiative for their own purposes. Some ministers are Departmentally-minded and eager to keep policy initiatives clearly within their own Departmental remit. Some themes are seen as top of the agenda and hence attract support (e.g. social exclusion); others do not (sustainable development). There is a tendency to focus on the short term and on the need for quick wins - despite the fact that cross-cutting issues are by their nature not amenable to quick solutions.

On the other hand much of the drive for cross-Departmental working is coming from senior ministers, and some civil servants are finding it difficult to adjust to this new way of working. There is a reluctance to take on any work that is not seen as 'core' to one's own Department; cross-cutting issues are often seen as marginal to mainstream policy areas. Where inter-Departmental working is effective, it is often made to work by good personal contacts or the commitment of a few individuals to overcome obstacles rather than effective systemic processes.

3.1.3 Inadequate local policy debate

At the local level local there is some evidence of attempts to interpret cross-cutting issues in locality specific terms. For example, Thurrock has defined social exclusion more widely to include people with learning disabilities, and sees involving local people as giving legitimacy to shape the agenda in line with local needs.

Cheshire has set up a multi-professional Social Exclusion Task Group which has developed a 'local' definition. Social Exclusion for Cheshire County Council is the multiple and changing factors resulting in people being excluded from the normal and everyday choices, exchanges, practices and rights, of modern society. It affects individuals and groups and emphasises the weaknesses in the social infrastructure and the risk of allowing a two-tier society to become established by default. The Group has established a programme of work which focuses on the experience of exclusion in a number of localities and draws together County Council working with the actions of other agencies.

There are other examples of cross agency working to begin to explore needs and agree desired outcomes - for example, the Essex Community Safety Forum, Newcastle Healthy Cities Partnership, the Somerset Health Promotion Strategic Planning Team, the business education partnership in Sheffield, and the development of health and education Action Zones bids in that city. Some authorities are following recent DETR commissioned advice on the development of corporate strategies for tackling disadvantage (building inclusive regeneration onto a longer history of anti-poverty-working). The approach taken by the Government in New Deal, of setting the broad framework and policy goals centrally while leaving a lot of freedom to address locally defined problems in locally determined ways, is welcomed.

However, in our case studies we found that, in general, local stakeholders spend little time engaging in debate about the nature, form, cause and effect of, or potential initiatives towards, cross-cutting issues. In part, this is because localities want to see how serious the government is about an issue before they commit resources - until which point they will only pay lip service to the issue, and get ready for the guidelines for bidding. They believe it to be unproductive to discuss the conceptual nature of the issues, and the local expectation is that a complicated system of bidding will soon follow and, until the rules are clear, clarifying the issues with central government is a waste of time. Guidance often comes too late, and can then be irrelevant or even counter-productive if local players have already formulated their own approaches. This is particularly the case where a new zone initiative is anticipated.

Many local councillors and officers are struggling to understand and respond to the new agenda. But the habits and attitudes formed over many years when relations between local authorities and central government were strained will take time to change, and local stakeholders receive relatively little support in this from central government or Government Offices (of the Regions), or through political channels.

3.1.4 The speed of change

The speed of change is causing its own problems. Consultation papers, we were told, come out months late but the deadline for local response is not relaxed. Policy is being developed as it is implemented, which causes confusion and huge tensions within the system. 'Frightening deadlines' (for example for bidding for the New Deal contracts) make partnership working difficult. While local players in both the statutory and voluntary sectors are keen to be involved, many are now suffering 'initiative fatigue' as a consequence of the speed and volume of new initiatives, and this also inhibits effective engagement.

3.1.5 Policy dissonance

When analysis is not shared and there is no agreement on desired outcomes, there is no framework for identifying 'what works', or what the balance should be between alleviation of current symptoms and longer term measures. This brings lack of direction to local implementation.

The absence of definition allows the development of dissonance between different interpretations of policy and different ideas about the purpose and form of new initiatives. Tensions emerge where stated goals (e.g. better environmental performance of business) are not accompanied by the legislative, fiscal or other measures which the local level thinks are needed for progress towards these goals. Tensions also emerge about time-scales, about the balance between prevention and treatment, about strategy and focus, about long term investment versus fire-fighting, and about substantive content.

Above all tensions arise between traditional (or redefined) service area targets (e.g. educational performance) and special cross-cutting goals (integration of excluded youth), a tension evident both at central policy level and at the more operational local level. It was put to us that the current fashion for cross-cutting issues might divert attention from the very real justifications for single-cut (or 'silo' based) policies. It is necessary therefore to strike a balance between cross-cutting and other issues to ensure the preservation of some of the advantages of traditional approaches. Single cut and cross-cutting policies are not necessarily in opposition, and in practice, if managed properly, can and should be complementary.

In some cross-cutting policy areas these tensions are resolved by slipping responsibility for setting policy direction onto other organisations almost by default. For example, the Environment Agency, with its regional structure, finds itself acting as the government advisor on many aspects of environment and sustainable development policy when its core remit is in fact the implementation of environmental legislation.

At the local level, the focusing of resources on specific areas (geographical or sectoral) at the expense of others - can raise political issues with elected members (and sometimes officers) unwilling to distort local priorities to find leverage for central resources. Education and Social Service functions still carry enormous weight, and new unitary authorities as well as more established authorities find that cross-cutting issues remain marginal to main service provision, and receive less attention as well as few resources.

3.1.6 A framework for local discretion

The lack of clarity about how far local authorities are expected to take the initiative and how far they must do as they are told, in the context of a culture where many are afraid to step out of line, inhibits action. As one local authority officer put it 'We could have got on with it, but we were waiting for information from on high. Now we are starting to realise it's not going to come'.

Localities are in practice puzzled. Under the new government greater interaction between the centre and local actors is welcome. New approaches to consultation are appreciated. If central government does not always seem to speak with one voice that is recognised as the price that must be paid for early involvement and consultation. But localities would welcome clearer guidance about precisely what is expected from local government in response to the government's new approaches.

Localities are not looking necessarily for detailed prescriptions - rather for broad but unambiguous guidance on policy goals which leaves space for locally determined outcomes and actions; this requires both local capacity to set outcome goals (more detailed guidance may be required for localities where this is lacking), and national recognition that this is appropriate - with clear boundaries to local discretion.

3.2 Consultation

Meaningful consultation with stakeholders is a key aspect of organisational learning, one of two mechanisms ( the other being evaluation) whereby policy can be made responsive to the external environment. We have distinguished between consultation by central government with local areas, and community and user engagement at local level. Both are part of an emerging concept of governance, in which the formal mechanisms of government are increasingly seen to be inadequate as a means of voicing and reconciling the diverse interests of different sections of the community, and where a wide range of listening and consultative activity can help to build consensus for action.

3.2.1 Consultation between central and local government

The Government is perceived as much more willing to listen than its predecessors and local players are very pleased at this. However, because the government came to power with a clear agenda on which they had already consulted while in opposition, the normal extensive consultation process has been truncated. This has put great pressure on both civil servants and those in the field. The speed at which current consultations are being carried out between central and local government has diluted - but not destroyed - the belief locally that this government is genuinely committed to listening. In addition, the very large numbers of responses gathered to some broad consultation exercises (a month before the deadline for consultation of Sustainable Development, 3000 responses had been returned) makes the consultation process a burdensome and time consuming one. Local players commented on how difficult it is to keep pace with policy developments - having to trawl ministerial speeches to find out about thinking is not seen as effective communication. Consultation at an early stage is welcomed, but can give the impression that 'the left hand does not seem to know what the right hand is doing'. But perhaps most importantly, local players do not feel that consultation is genuine, they see no real dialogue - 'communication feels one way'.

There is of course extensive consultation with the LGA, and joint working groups - for example to capture learning from the New Deal. A number of departments are engaged in making visits to local areas to discuss with practitioners what can be done. Experimentation with new ways of involving practitioners in the development of policy also includes Task Forces, but though valuable in injecting practical expertise into policy at a formative stage, there is a danger that they are seen as a substitute for proper consultation outside Whitehall.

3.2.2 Community engagement

Local organisations and partnerships are beginning to listen to external voices, to engage more actively in dialogues with their local communities, to learn about peoples' experiences, perceptions and expectations. A range of innovative approaches are being used to collect community views (such as new forms of council meeting, citizens' panels, citizens' juries, and visioning events), and recent research for DETR pulls together much of current good practice. Rather than engaging in consultation and then moving off to act unilaterally, the best organisations are seeking to work in a more multilateral way with a wide range of stakeholders. Joint understandings and agreements are being sought about what will work across many policy areas. Crucial community and voluntary sector interests are slowly being engaged, as are ordinary local people. Business partners are willing if often puzzled participants in consultations and partnerships.

Thurrock Tomorrow, a 'whole systems' event held during the preparation for unitary status, enabled the community to help shape the vision for the new district.

Newcastle recently held 'The Big Event: Making the West End the Best End'. This was a two day meeting hosted by the council, the health authority, the police, the university and others, inviting local people and businesses to plan the future for the area. The recommendations will form the basis of a 15 year plan for the area.

Thurrock's Youth Forum was set up by youth workers, parents, police and young people to give young people a voice in decisions that affect them, as well as providing hands-on help or fund-raising for projects that will make a difference to life in the community; adults now take the back seat and the regular forum meetings are led by the young people themselves.

Tower Hamlets is undertaking a project amongst some of the marginalised sections of the local community engaging them in creating a vision for the future of the borough. This project aims to involve these groups in a sustainable dialogue with the council in the years ahead.

Sustainable Somerset comprising local authorities, the Health Authority, business networks, community and interest groups meets every three months to build on the outcomes of a series of roundtable events.

Cheshire has undertaken extensive Quality of Life surveys which inform its approach to a range of issues and have given focus to 'New Cheshire'.

There is now a clearer requirement to consult as part of a number of bidding systems. SRB Schemes are gradually improving local practice, as is Local Agenda 21 working and much local Community Safety activity, while the Modern Local Government proposals will extend this principle authority wide to new community leadership duties.

Consultation is increasingly widespread but it is not easy. Local people are often suspicious; in the past they were promised much and it was never delivered, and trust needs to be built up between them and local authorities. In some areas, such as Newcastle's West End, there is consultation overload - 'people are sick of being researched because nothing ever happens'. It is important therefore to be honest about what can and cannot be achieved. Most of these cross-cutting issues are aimed at involving residents - many of whom have had unhappy service experiences in relation to, for example, council tax, housing repairs, or schools or businesses which have experienced some form of restraint or regulation on their activity. Through many eyes - business as well as residents - the council is seen as an enforcing rather than enabling body.

Consultation also requires changes in attitudes amongst elected members in particular, the more traditional of whom think 'we know what the public wants'. Some are honest enough to admit 'the problem with involving the community is that they often come up with things the council will not want to do, so there is a tendency not to consult'.

Although much progress is being made locally, listening and feedback systems rarely involve central or regional government - a crucial break in the communication chain. Nor has central government consultation hitherto made much use of innovative methods, though they have recently piloted the citizens' jury model.

3.2.3 An open system?

There is a need to open up the policy process at both central and local levels, to allow a more meaningful dialogue which can influence thinking at an early enough stage. Once key decisions are taken, formulaic consultation may serve simply to produce cynicism amongst those consulted. Local government is learning that it is not enough to ask stakeholders their opinions - they must be helped to reach a more informed judgement. This may require a sustained dialogue and joint working. Effort is repaid in better solutions, collectively owned. Central government could well heed the same lesson.

3.3 Structure

Protected boundaries - professional, departmental, geographical - inhibit effective inter-organisational and inter-departmental dialogue and action, and make cross-cutting initiatives hard work. Such structures are powerful shapers of behaviour, reinforced as they are by other aspects of the whole system. Although there is a widespread acceptance that partnership working is necessary, the shared understanding on which this must be founded takes time and energy to build and organisational protectiveness often gets in the way.

3.3.1 Structural barriers to joint action

Departmentalism Departmental compartmentalisation remains strong in Whitehall, and is reflected in dissonance in policy, funding and performance management systems. Inside local authorities strong departments claim most resources for mainstream and statutory responsibilities and cross-cutting issues are driven to the margin. Rather than addressing cross-cutting issues by bending main programmes, the tendency is to see them as 'extras', of secondary importance. Output-based service oriented performance management systems and line accountabilities encourage a narrow focus on service delivery within existing structures.

Departments at both central and local level are jealous of their policy territory and of their budgets. If cross-cutting working presents a threat to resources, a lack of commitment to joined up working emerges. If, however, new initiatives lack a resource base or a lever over resources they are harder to implement.

Regional structures Regional Development Agencies and a new regionalism may involve restatement of the territorial logic of some functions. Localism may be lost or displaced in new regional structures. For some localities the new regionalism poses a challenge. For instance, Thurrock (a Thames gateway authority and part of SERPLAN, yet in the Eastern Region), Cheshire (a bridge between North Wales and Merseyside), and rural Somerset (fearful of being squeezed by the urban pressures of Plymouth and Bristol), need to renegotiate their place in the territorial hierarchy. The multiplicity of central government's regional boundaries (MAFF, DETR, Environment Agency) complicate the regional picture further, whilst area rationalisation in some services (e.g. magistrates' courts proposals for parts of the South West) may not match the pattern of other existing provision.

Government Offices - and in the future RDAs - offer the opportunity for creating an effective interface between the centre and localities which could address a number of problems, and there are useful examples of GO innovative involvement in cross-cutting issues - the Government Office for the South West formation of a Sustainability Roundtable and Social Exclusion Advisory Group and the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber involvement with community safety, for example. GOs' effectiveness is, however, limited because they only cover some central government functions, and officials tend to see their identity in terms of their home department rather than the region. The GO role - referred to by interviewees as 'sleeping partner', 'helpful not useful' - is perceived by many local players to make little contribution to policy development or delivery on cross-cutting issues, appears not to be integrated, and conveys an impression of project management and control. Whilst SRB is seen as a general success (leaving aside the need to bid) it has been accompanied by the expansion of heavy compliance culture in GOs and central government. The view that GOs observe rather than act is fuelled by their role in project auditing (e.g. accreditation of local on-the-job training projects within the New Deal Environmental Task Force). The problem of identifying a new GO role - inevitably difficult at the time when RDAs are being established - is exacerbated by what are perceived by local authorities to be constant changes of staff, changes which are thought to run counter to the building of relationships in the locality whilst reinforcing relationships within the Civil Service and between GOs.

Counties and districts Two-tier county/district relations remain fragile. Post-reorganisation relations are thought by some (e.g. in Somerset and Essex) to inhibit integrated working. Cross-cutting issues often highlight two-tier tensions since most such issues remain discretionary for local government, and are thus within the remit of both tiers with neither obviously in the lead. Although with respect to some functions the two tiers have sought to establish joint working groups or fora, there remains duplication and confusion. This is exacerbated when the two tiers of local authority are each trying to work in partnership with another agency (TEC or Health Authority) whose territory straddles the two, and which may find itself pulled in different directions. On the other hand, new unitary authorities such as Thurrock are grasping the opportunity to present a more integrated response to issues that formerly straddled the district/county divide, and here local government reorganisation has been a significant enabler for initiatives such as New Deal.

As an example, in the realm of community safety work in Cheshire, the key agents who ought to be working in partnership are split between the Districts and the County. Under the new Crime and Disorder Act the District Councils will be required to deliver community safety, leaving the County with a vague 'umbrella' role. Yet two of the key delivery agents, Education and Social Services, are embedded in the County administration. There appeared to be little structural bridging between the County and District levels.

Thurrock and Essex County Council have different approaches to community safety, which puts the county-wide police force in a difficult position - can they apply different policies in different parts of what is, for them, a single territory? Similarly there will be different Youth Offender Teams linking in to the same court, which again may lead to discrepancies in policy.

Tower Hamlets has two police divisions within its area, which can lead to problems in co-ordinating borough-wide policies. Often the Council has to have separate meetings with the two divisions.

Co-terminosity Where organisations or zones have different boundaries this often causes problems. Effective cross-cutting service planning and delivery demands integrated record keeping, establishment of one stop service points, a single focus for interdepartmental officer working and/or elected member political responsibilities, and an easily comprehensible framework for local people to understand what is going on in their area. Co-terminosity supports and simplifies all these integrative measures; varying boundaries confuse. The absence of co-terminosity is perceived as a major problem, with Local Government, the Health Service, Police, TECs and Business Links, the Environment Agency, Probation, Courts, and voluntary organisations often not sharing the same boundaries. Recent boundary reviews (local government) were said 'to do violence to the process of governance' with some of the new area based initiatives seen as capricious ('You might as well drop food parcels') in over-riding pre-existing local arrangements.

There are, however, a number of positive moves to address this issue. In Sheffield the Health Authority and the City Council are actively working on integrating locality health planning with local government area working, whilst Cheshire County Constabulary has agreed to increase and re-draw its Divisions (currently five) to fit the boundaries of Cheshire's six district councils. At the same time in Cheshire, however, the Health Authority is drawing new primary care areas which do not conform to local government areas but are designed around the catchment areas of hospitals.

Several local authorities are exploring the possibility of creating distinct new organisational structures for delivering services related to cross cutting issues to replace what they see as wasteful and complex inter-agency working. Examples such as the Northamptonshire Diversion Unit already exist, and many regeneration partnerships begin to fulfil that role. In Newcastle, several officers talked about the need to create new structures outside conventional organisations.

Special zones The development of 'zone' initiatives is often welcomed locally, and promises to stimulate greater partnership working and a focused attack on intractable problems. But it can create major problems at the local level, reinforcing territorial jealousies and competitiveness. Issues include; the choice of zone, the structures required for zone bids, the application of authority-wide non-spatial policies to zones, the differing preferences of government departments for size of zone (Regeneration, Health and Education areas are all of differing size), the apparent neglect of causal factors outside the zone, competition within localities for zone status and competition between zones.

The status of special zones is a major political issue for localities, especially, we were told, where zones have been created or approved by 'outsiders' with little knowledge of alliances of local communities or interests. There is little consensus as yet on whether the many zones are 'models' which in due course are intended for replication elsewhere and possibly across the whole authority, or whether they are targeted special initiatives with extra resources (at least of time and attention if not cash) which are not intended for replication.

The designation of such special zones of varying size and function creates a fragmented patchwork of intensive activity, often overlaid on a pre-existing or emergent authority-wide pattern of area-based or locality working. In some places, Health or Education Action Zones have been successfully integrated within existing area working (including that of SRB), but in many areas the superimposition of new area-based experimental initiatives raises difficulties in both policy and practice. DETR is to digitise the boundaries of current 'zone' initiatives to enable the pattern of geographical links to be examined, but it is clear that 'zonitis' is perceived by many as a particularly complex and complicating way of introducing innovation and integration.

3.3.2 Partnership working

There is widespread welcome for, and acceptance of, the principle and practice of partnership working, and much good practice. But people are still feeling their way, and although much is known about what is required to make a partnership work, departmental vested interests, cultures and systems still often get in the way.

There are numerous examples (many supported by the SRB Challenge Fund) of successful inter-organisational practice, both for the delivery of mainstream services and inter-organisational working for targeted programmes and projects. Locally there are examples of city wide partnerships as fora for multi-sector working on cross-cutting issues or as umbrellas for mini partnerships (for example Sheffield City Liaison Group, Chester Action Partnership). The local arms of central government are beginning to get involved - for example, New Deal has stimulated the development of new partnerships, involving a wide range of local agencies working with the Employment Service. Equally, there are widespread examples of community involvement - Thurrock's Broadway estate, all four of Sheffield's SRB schemes, Cheshire's Community Action Area programme, and Newcastle's West End are only the tip of an iceberg.

In Cheshire and the Wirral, the DfEE New Start programme is delivered through a number of local partnerships led by different local partners, all pursuing the general Cheshire New Start aims but developing individual schemes and projects based on local research and with regard to local circumstances.

The Thurrock Enterprise Partnership (chaired by the council and involving the adult education service, youth service, local colleges, CVS, TEC, careers service, Probation Service, and Prince's Youth Business Trust as well as ES) gained the gateway contract and has had practical benefits in delivering a seamless service. There have been joint visits to employers by ES personal advisors and gateway workers, and a joint initiative in setting up an Employer Task Force to promote New Deal with local employers and to provide a support mechanism for employers once New Deal gets underway.

Tower Hamlets has been proactive on the question of youth crime. In 1997, they put together a Youth Crime Group involving a wide range of partners including the police and probation service. The three bodies are currently working on developing a safe system for the exchange of information. In response to the Crime and Disorder Bill this body will form a Youth Offender Team, which, with two full-time youth workers, will be steered by the Chief Executive and a group of corporate directors to ensure success.

Newcastle's Reviving the Heart of the West End is typical of a number of SRB Schemes. The area on which the project is centred saw a steep rise in crime, poverty, school exclusions, and other aspects of deprivation through the early 1990s, culminating in inner-city riots. The initial response from many public service bodies was to withdraw from the area and pretend it was 'not our problem'. This initiative represented the first concerted effort to reconnect with the area. Partners include the city council, The Newcastle Initiative (which is mainly private sector) and various community and residents associations. Instead of the previous top-down approach this project aims to rebuild local people's trust and confidence in bodies, such as the council, and to involve them in a meaningful way in the revitalisation of the area.

There remain examples of poor practice in partnership, with difficulties about membership, status, agendas, resources etc. These become more serious when the statutory demands upon organisations for partnership working are unequal (for example, TECs have by statute to deliver through partnership with bodies such as Local Authorities and Chambers of Commerce upon whom there are different demands). Additionally, public /private sector partnerships may be inherently difficult because of the lack of a policy framework within which joint goals become meaningful, in particular, the very limited demands upon private companies to engage with the environmental and social agenda. Equally, there are some signs of stress in local partnership as the emergence of RDAs on the one hand and a growing emphasis on small area working on the other pulls some local actors in opposing directions and stretches resources beyond capacity.

There are numerous lessons to be learned about good partnership practice (who should be included, agenda setting, synergy, consensus, types of partnership, the need to invest in skills, shared understanding and culture change, the need to align decision making, planning and budgeting cycles and so link initiatives into the substance of the parent organisation). Most crucially, partnerships only really work where they produce benefits for all partners. There are differing roles for partnerships - facilitation of vision, planning and co-ordination, task delivery and others, and there is now recognition that it is appropriate to negotiate terms of engagement before entering new partnerships. It is important to separate out strategic and operational working, and so ensure appropriate and balanced representation in terms of seniority; otherwise 'achievements in partnership drop down to the lowest common denominator'. The common causes of failure are also well understood, most notably the lack of a powerful shared agenda, and the absence of penalties for failure - especially where the partnership is focused on marginal activities and where there are powerful penalties in the partners' mainstream activities.

But experience in health and social services, where there is a long history of partnership working, indicates that it is not sufficient to know what has to be done to work in partnership. Fundamental changes in attitudes, management processes and systems are also required, and much organisational and professional baggage has to be left behind. SRB has proved to be an important catalyst for partnership working and with over 700 SRB schemes in operation there has been significant learning in areas (such as Chester) hitherto less familiar with partnership cultures. SRB has also been an important vehicle for involving the community in partnership.

3.3.3 From joined up talking to joined up action?

Local partnerships are beginning to achieve results, having invested heavily in establishing relationships, building trust and making new joint structures work. But although there is a commitment to collaboration, co-operation and co-ordination, for some, the full integration of activity is a step too far. Often, collaboration may work well at the level of individual projects, but making the transition to joint strategy and co-ordinated programmes requires much wider commitment within the organisations concerned, and real sacrifices of autonomy. Without a shared analysis of the problem and shared vision of the desired outcomes, progress is likely to be slow. Integrated working is still in its infancy, and too often, while lip service is paid to integration, implementation remains fragmented.

3.4 Systems

The dominant feature of central-local relations in the past decade has been competition and contractualisation. New initiatives have often been - and as yet still are - often defined in process terms, and valuable resources are expended in; setting up partnerships or project teams, in establishing working procedures, in writing bids or delivery plans. In many localities, heavy system management is seen as being inflexible, unhelpful and inhibiting to joint working. Grant regimes and national monitoring systems are cumbersome, time consuming and artificial.

3.4.1 Inflexibility stifles innovation

There are widespread local complaints about excessive attention to the detail of procedural systems and about the tendency for the centre to descend into procedure rather than policy. This is seen by some local authorities to indicate a lack of trust by central government. Thus a major inhibition on innovation is the emergence of the system (rather than policy outcome) as the driver of implementation. Compliance with centrally driven administrative systems tends to drain local implementers of the energy and motivation to implement with flair or imagination. Pilots, Experiments, Action Zones, Pathfinders are all hedged around with procedural detail on bidding, appraisal, monitoring and delivery, rather than encouraging innovation. It is feared that 'zonitis' will reinforce process rather than action.

Especially with cross-cutting issues - which require more imaginative solutions - the need is for more flexible implementation rules recognising local needs and local solutions, and offering the ability to switch money around, or carry it forward from one period to another. The CSR makes helpful proposals on capital. But, in practice, the systems for pilot programmes seem more onerous than those for established programmes (SRB is the frequently quoted example, having been the new system with money attached). Systemic rigidities get in the way of using resources imaginatively. For example, European Social Fund funding rules have hampered attempts to use New Deal and ESF money to fund initiatives aimed at working with families in which inter-generational unemployment has been a problem; in this instance, central and local government are working together to find ways round the difficulty. Some arms of delivery of central government policy which are outside the structure of local government (e.g. MAFF regional offices and TECs), have also established heavily bureaucratic systems which impose consistency within their own system, but which appear to run directly contrary to the systems of others and to reinforce fragmentation rather than integration.

The need for clear accountability (particularly financial) together with the necessity for ministers to have detailed information when they appear before a public accounts committee, can be argued to explain and justify extensive administration and systemic 'silos'. Audit trails are easier to follow when they are in straight vertical directions. But a commitment to cross-cutting work does not necessarily imply lower standards of accountability, and accountable systems which guarantee proper records can be designed for joint working. Within SRB working, the accountable body mechanism works well and it is not financial reporting which generates the major complaints about heavy administration. In any case, the argument that heavy administration inhibits innovation applies equally to main-line programmes. Perhaps more difficult to resolve is the real tension between ministers being able to demonstrate that money has been spent in line with national sectoral policy intentions, and the desirability of being able to put together resources flexibly at local level in line with local needs and priorities.

3.4.2 The burden of compliance

Local implementers struggle with different systems for different grant regimes (appraisal requirements, monitoring, consultation and so on) - each with its own 'bells to be rung'. They ask why one approval cannot do for several programmes and demand a more integrated approach from GOs. Generation of leverage and matching funding is time-consuming and tiresome, and particularly onerous where projects are funded from different sources each requiring information in a different format. Partner organisations are dragged into the bureaucracy; partnership board members forced into detailed administration.

The feeling expressed by one interviewee that annual funding (annual approval without carry over) is 'a tyranny' was widely echoed with complaints about the weight of regular performance management systems (quarterly monitoring, delivery plan targets). SRB was quoted as 'a good idea gone wrong' reflecting a belief (again widespread) that too much time is spent on administration.

With practice, a large scheme or initiative can manage the bureaucracy quite easily. Experience combined with economies of scale can generate capacity in relation to effort, funding, and administration.

In Sheffield it was suggested that concentration in one area of the city over a period of years, together with a large SRB scheme, had begun to create a local climate in which bidding competition and contract management had become more familiar and manageable if not more welcome. Local capacity building had supported the development of a 'go for it' culture which minimised the difficulties and maximised the possibilities from a range of bidding opportunities

Many localities now have a bids unit or an external funding Committee/unit in order to co-ordinate and manage the bidding culture, echoing the establishment in other authorities of a city wide partnership or group which draws together the various strands necessary to co-ordinate complex bidding and administrative tasks. The New Commitment to Regeneration also implies greater certainty in funding streams and offers the potential for reducing duplication in administrative oversight.

Whether or not the effort involved in competitive bidding systems is at least partially justified because it results in a more efficient allocation of scarce resources is a question beyond the scope of this research. But there would clearly be resource savings if funding systems could be made simpler, more flexible and more integrated, and unnecessary duplication removed. Flexibility to vire between budget areas, carry over from one year to another, less emphasis on the detailed accounting for leverage, and greater flexibility in the valuation of in-kind time, are all examples of areas where minor simplification of procedures would lighten the burden of compliance.

3.4.3 Competition and fragmentation

Arbitrary funding may be very divisive at the local level to the point where it can be said to 'poison local relationships'. In Somerset, for example, there have been up to eight schools at any one time bidding for lottery funding for sports facilities, not all of which can be supported by the County Council with matching funding, infrastructure development and management time, and none of which may be schools defined in the central strategy as being in greatest need. In Newcastle, the bidding system brought to the surface tensions between different parts of the city, and resulted in time-wasting and competing bids for SRB funding within the city. Elsewhere, the bidding process discourages localities from entering into the process of experimental initiatives. 'Challenge' initiatives are perceived to be hurdles rather than a stimulus to innovation.

More importantly, fragmented funding regimes encourage the tendency for new initiatives to become programmes of projects rather than a policy, and make an integrated response more difficult. These problems are exacerbated when different partners operate under very different regimes, with different degrees of local autonomy.

In Tower Hamlets, the local authority wished to install CCTV cameras to reduce crime and attract business into the area, and were willing to pay the local police to watch these. They were told that the local police cannot retain any money given to them - it goes straight to Scotland Yard.

3.4.4 Systems compliance

Old habits die hard. For many years central government has forced centrally driven policies onto an unwilling local government; to do this they have used prescriptive procedures and detailed performance reporting systems. Local authorities have responded by complying as far as they must, and in many cases evading when they can - which has reinforced the perception in the centre that tightly managed systems of enforcement are required. Compliance in central-local relationships is mirrored within local authorities, where organisational systems are often inflexible and weighed down by managerial and professional baggage. Where local capacity is weak, explicit central guidance is helpful. However, in those local areas where experience of integrated working is growing and capacity is stronger, excessive system management is seen as being inflexible, unhelpful and inhibiting to joint working.

The Government has demonstrated a willingness to change this approach, to allow local authorities scope to determine the best way of achieving the required outcomes. But both the centre and localities are struggling to rise to the challenge of one the on hand letting go, and on the other using the opportunity to shape things rather than complaining about the effort this inevitably takes. The lack of a shared vision of desired outcomes makes this more difficult for both.

3.5 Organisation

The need to respond to cross-cutting issues is driving new ways of working within and between organisations. Change is more apparent at local level than in the centre, but at both levels there are powerful barriers to be overcome.

3.5.1 New ways of working

At local level, new flatter management systems, horizontal working groups, and inter-agency projects have begun to cut across conventional structures in innovative ways. New approaches to corporate working are being introduced, which offer scope for strong leadership for change from the top. Leading politicians and senior officers are playing a key role in reshaping both internal organisation and the structures for addressing external relations.

Many authorities are introducing Executive Directorates, with a smaller executive team of Directors covering large areas of linked service delivery. One such portfolio may well involve a number of cross-cutting issues (e.g. the community development portfolio in Cheshire or area planning in Newcastle); alternatively, a bundle of cross-cutting issues or themes (such as 'partnerships' or regeneration) may be held within the Chief Executive's area of responsibility (as in Sheffield, Tower Hamlets and Thurrock). Often Executive Directors hold corporate responsibility (for an area, for a partnership, for a theme such as Best Value or performance or environment).

In Thurrock, new unitary status has been the catalyst for a more corporate and strategic approach. Thurrock's new structure is aimed at fostering the integration of services, developing strategic capacity whilst maintaining an operational focus, and enhancing the authority's ability to respond to the local community and work in partnership with others. Services have been grouped into three broad directorates - personal services, environmental services, and central services; a policy and partnerships unit works directly to the Chief Executive. Corporate issues are dealt with separately from service delivery issues, with separate budgets, separate fundholders and specific control; this is intended to ensure that proper consideration and progression of strategic issues does not suffer because of pressing problems of service delivery. Executive directors are responsible for translating political ambitions into policies and plans, focusing on external relationships, ensuring the corporate adoption of key policies, and facilitating service integration; service heads hold operational accountability. Third tier managers have been given lead responsibility for projects to develop the corporate direction on both management processes and policies on cross-cutting issues, to try and build ownership and encourage people to move out of their organisational 'silos'.

The Thurrock example is fairly typical. Cheshire County Council, Chester City Council and Sheffield City Council have all introduced new structures on similar lines. But all are at an early stage of implementation, and it is hard to say how such structural changes - designed to increase effectiveness and allow for more corporate cross-cutting working - will work in the long run.

Structural changes alone do not bring about new ways of working. They must be complemented by clarity about required outputs and outcomes, and clear accountabilities for results reflecting corporate priorities. This needs to be cascaded down through the organisation, to avoid a disjunction between senior responsibilities (cross-cutting) and the objectives set for middle and junior managers (in many cases service-specific).

3.5.2 New democratic structures

Changes are also being introduced in democratic structures. Streamlining of officer structures is often mirrored in a reduction in the number of committees (from fifteen or twenty to as few as half a dozen) with integrated areas of policy responsibility. New member/officer relations are emerging in Boards (responsible for executive functions), in Panels (with scrutiny functions for a particular theme or area of work), and in Area Committees (where the impact of service integration on the ground can be most keenly felt and addressed).

Thurrock has introduced a Policy Board of senior officers and key members to formulate policies, develop strategy, oversee performance and ensure accountability. Each of Thurrock's key committees also has appropriate representation and involvement from sectors of the community - for example, residents and tenants groups and school governors. In addition, advisory commissions have been set up on health, youth, and civic pride - issues identified as priorities by the community during the run-up to unitary status; these are the vehicle for securing wider involvement of the community.

Authorities in our research case studies recognised that cross-departmental integration can be particularly effective at the very local, community level. A community orientation fits well with the principles of Best Value, provides an enhanced role for many members and officers who feel sidelined by the streamlining of Committees and strategic policy groups, and allows for more involvement of the public in contributing to service delivery and assessment. Sheffield, Cheshire, Newcastle and Mendip have all pursued the 'localisation' approach, in different ways.

Some authorities have introduced new user or resident groupings on specific issues. Sheffield has actively promoted the formation of local Community Safety Groups which consist of local residents, elected members, city council fieldworkers, and representatives of other agencies working in the locality; these groups are encouraged to formulate plans for improving community safety and to generate resources for implementation. Others are seeking new ways of balancing policy objectives - for example, Mendip District Council has modernised working practices through the application of Local Agenda 21 principles of balancing economic, social and environmental objectives, participation and inclusion in all aspects of policy formulation and service delivery. New uses are being made of formal occasions. For example, Sheffield now uses Council meetings as a forum for debate involving councillors, external agencies and the public with a visiting speaker or expert spending three hours on key issues confronting the city; traditional formal Council business is handled elsewhere.

Sheffield has developed a city wide area basis for working, involving area member panels, area officers, and the preparation and analysis of information on an area basis. Local forums have been established, co-terminosity with health is being pursued, and an 'area' culture is being developed. Not all areas have the same needs, are of the same size, or receive the same treatment. Sheffield, however, believes it is important not to identify only a few areas but to cover the city with an area system as a key element of corporate working and for the pursuit of integration of service delivery.

In Cheshire, Area Committees (co-terminous with districts) have been established to reflect the corporate philosophy of 'New Cheshire'. A new Community Development Department provides 'local support' to members and officers at the area level, area profiling is being explored by the strong R and I Unit now located in Community Development, and Cheshire is seeking to rebuild its relationship with local communities in Cheshire following reorganisation. Area Committees will receive inputs from all parts of the Council and will be able to feed back to the various Boards and panels which now form the Cheshire corporate structure. Already Area Committees are receiving many requests from local organisations to make presentations to or meet with them.

In Newcastle, local accountability groups have been established in many of the most deprived areas. These consist of local councillors, officers and local community representatives. Each group has a small budget to spend in the locality. This bottom-up approach to problem solving was felt to be especially necessary in sensitive areas of the city. Originally the groups concentrated on looking at issues around disaffected youth but have now widened their remit. Initially some members were cautious about the initiative, feeling it threatened their roles, but they have been won over as the groups have proved successful.

In Mendip, the small and medium sized town character of the district has led to the establishment of Town Managers who provide the focus both for translating top-down district wide policy frameworks into local service delivery, and for bottom-up local inputs into service planning. The Town Manager role in Mendip has increased in visibility and status and now provides an important focus for service integration, as well as offering the potential for making service planning more community oriented and re-orienting officers to a more user responsive culture.

3.5.3 Barriers to organisational change

These innovations face challenges to successful implementation. There is the potential for creating 'super silos' - very large directorates under a single director. It is also difficult to spread the values required for new ways of working through the system. The in-built strength of mainstream departments means that responsibility and accountability for cross-cutting issues is often social services) can perpetuate the 'silo' culture.

New initiatives need new ways of working - new rules and practices for discretion, delegation, autonomy, subsidiarity (to LAs, to departments, to area officers, to communities etc.). But traditional bureaucratic practice, proliferation of meetings, duplication of work, maintains a hold especially at middle management level. This is an impediment to risk taking and experimentation. Where individuals break out of this pattern, those who depend on them feel vulnerable to their moving on. At the local level, there is a fear of too much system management (imposed by central government), and too much middle management (within the authority). Local authorities are moving towards flatter management systems, but this in itself generates tensions as flatter management systems offer responsibilities to larger numbers of middle managers.

Equally, shifting the behaviours of front-line staff involves major attitudinal change. It is a difficult time for middle management and fieldwork/front-line staff. There are often fears that innovation will mean having to re-apply for your own job, and this is a major disincentive to new ways of working. Many people, therefore, try to hold onto resources and information. Front-line staff may find themselves bearing responsibilities for which they have little experience and training, and in pursuit of integrated working the process of devolution may go too far too fast. This makes change in relation to cross-cutting issues harder since these pressures demand new cultures in front-line working. In several of the localities we researched, a review of the youth service highlighted these issues in relation to all of our cross-cutting issues.

3.5.4 The drive from the centre

The Government has a modernising agenda for local government, wishing to encourage greater local accountability, better service performance and a more strategic focus. The renewed commitment to community leadership will require local authorities to consult widely and work in partnership with others to tackle the problems that are most important in their locality. This will increase the attention paid locally to cross-cutting issues.

The introduction of local mayors and cabinets, and the encouragement of new forms of local consultation and measures to improve local accountability, will all impact on local thinking and action. Best Value, while focused on local accountability for improved service delivery, will require local authorities to set organisational priorities in consultation with local business and local people. Again, this will encourage better dialogue, and more innovative ways of delivering services to better meet local needs. Issues of service waste, duplication, ineffectiveness and obsolescence will be more important to address under Best Value than under the CCT regime. Considerations of Best Value will affect all aspects of local authority activity.

However, local organisational change is not driven solely by central government. Much of the shift we observed in our case study localities had begun before May 1997 in response to a range of external pressures and internal review. Indeed, as central government initiatives go, in general a 'wait and see what central government wants' attitude prevails unless the authority is already doing something - in which case the existing organisation of work can be adjusted. Since many authorities are already changing roles and structures this process of fitting one's own response to what central government seems to want is common. Indeed, this approach is advocated by the LGA and LGMB, where authorities wishing to work towards sustainable development are being urged to adapt the processes of Best Value and democratisation, part of the current drive from the centre, to achieve their desired aims.

3.6 Culture

Policy delivery is heavily influenced by organisational culture (defined as the values, meanings, language and attitudes that underpin behaviour, or 'the way we do things round here'). New Labour, new government, new policies are creating the climate in which different values, attitudes and ways of behaving are possible, but are also, in some cases, causing retrenchment into old cultures. Many of the organisational innovations discussed above reflect an attempt to shift the whole culture of the organisation.

3.6.1 Cultural archetypes

We have distinguished four cultural archetypes, which we observed at both local and central levels:

A compliance culture treats new initiatives largely in terms of conforming with required procedures, and often only amounts to 're-badging' current activity rather than refocusing resources;

A survival culture treats new initiatives as 'noise in the system', and by indulging inertia and avoiding responsibility induces failure to implement;

'Can-do' activism rejects constraints and obstacles and reflects a determination to make things happen (if sometimes without reflection about the real problems of implementation);

A culture of strategic implementation is grounded in shared thinking and understandings about the long term, joint problem ownership and sustained motivation.

The various cultures may co-exist within the same organisation and indeed may be encouraged so to do. For example, while overall culture in Mendip is strongly strategic, Town Centre Managers are given small pots of funding which they can use as they see fit; to promote local goals and make local things happen. Strategic implementation is increasingly pursued in some localities, but is rarer at national level, where compliance and survival cultures are more common. Compliance and can-do cultures are found at both central and local levels - sometimes reinforcing one another, sometimes in competition.

The tension between 'can-do/action' and 'reflective'/'watch out'/'survival' cultures echoes tensions within the whole policy process. Can-do activism is not sustainable in the longer term - it requires high energy, and is easily deflected; it must be translated into strategic implementation through an understanding of the real problems and barriers and what is necessary in terms of critical mass of change over time to overcome these.

3.6.2 An incipient cultural revolution?

After years when many local authorities had but one objective - 'whatever the government wants, we will not do it', there is a new willingness to engage; local government welcomes the new openness, and does not want to go back to the old command and control, confrontational ways. So the change in government is inducing change at local level but this will take time. 'Local authorities are so used to being beaten up by government that they find it difficult to cope with freedom - like a prisoner kept for 20 years in the dark, who cannot stand the light when he is released'.

At local level, a culture of compliance has been bred by central government, where new initiatives have been defined in terms of tightly prescribed procedures, competitive bidding against constantly changing requirements has encouraged 'rebadging' of projects and programmes, and monitoring focuses attention on process rather than outputs or outcomes. It is also engendered locally by an absence of focus on, and measurement of, real results, and over-bureaucratic or over-centralised systems run by people insulated from user or community views. In such an environment, authorities will do the minimum required of them, but will not innovate or take risks.

There are, however, many examples of new ways of working and of the development of new cultures of strategic implementation and can-do activism. All our case studies were actively seeking to bring about such cultural change. A major challenge for Chief Executives is to ensure that the desired culture permeates throughout the organisation, across all departments and all levels.

Best Value is, in some authorities, being used to drive through a new performance culture, and a new emphasis on customer needs and continuous improvement, extending across all areas of activity. In others, system compliance still dominates and the Best Value process is seen as merely a replacement for CCT, and as something separate from the day-to-day life of the authority.

In Newcastle, top management regards cultural change as more important than structural change in addressing cross-cutting issues ('Structure is relevant but it is the least important driver for change, it has always been local government's response and has been pushed to the exclusion of other ways of creating change. Culture and process are more important'). The authority is driving cultural change through the injection of new blood in critical areas; changing individuals' roles and responsibilities; and letting people see change happen, for example, through a new appraisal system and a four-fold increase in the training budget. This is seen as a programme which will take four or five years.

In Sheffield, where there has long been a traditional culture of strong service provision, departmentalism, and powerful central service Committees, the authority is being rebalanced towards a new culture which still emphasises quality services for local people, but stresses new values of corporate working, an area basis for service planning and delivery, and a recognition that the City Council cannot do it all.

In Mendip, much service provision now takes place through private sector companies with considerably increased capacity for entrepreneurship, for example, in achieving mixed development and improved environmental performance of contractors. The District Council contracted its financial services out as an external company, a senior member of which is closely linked to the authority's executive management structure; the company director is a member of the Chief Executive's team, bringing a new entrepreneurial spirit and capability into service provision and the development role of the local authority. The major cultural challenge is for middle management and fieldwork staff. This poses difficulties because service production is no longer the basic value and consumption - the quality of service delivery - is more important.

Partnership working brings its own cultural challenges. Joint working is a new setting for many officers and members, and a culture of partnership, especially building trust, needs nurturing. Clashes of culture between organisations (for example, between social services and the police in the case of disaffected youth) are a barrier to partnership working, as are clashes between professional groups. Differences in culture between the partners make it hard to understand each other, and may be reflected in different assumptions about what things mean or what interventions are appropriate. But there is evidence that experience of joint working is slowly beginning to break down these cultural divides, as partners become united in a common purpose. The partnership working in Thurrock around the New Deal is a good example of this, or Thurrock's Broadway estate where professionals who initially blamed each other have started to assume collective responsibility.

Community safety in Tower Hamlets is a high priority. Relationships with the local police have improved considerably over recent years. One of the main reasons for this has been the secondment of a local police officer to the council for a six month period to work with the council's community safety team. This close working relationship has helped each organisation to understand, and to some extent overcome, many of the usual barriers to partnership working such as differences in culture, structure, and process.

Some local authorities find it difficult to accept others as equal partners, and want to be a 'partnership leader'; to work with other organisations but in practice to mould them to their own will and way of working. The literature reminds us of this 'transformational' approach to partnership. Thus there is evidence, mainly in more traditional Labour authorities, of partnership staff and machinery being reabsorbed into internal departmental structures and departments seeking to service and manage partnerships. Although the local authority's neutrality and 'clout' as partnership convenor is valued, attempts to dominate are seen as inimical to true partnership.

Different authorities proceed at different speeds. In three of our cases - Sheffield, Tower Hamlets and Newcastle - partnership has been a feature of life for many years as a consequence of the inner area policies of twenty years or more. Here innovative partnership working has become a way of life. But even in such authorities, traditional values and traditional practices remain deeply embedded. Mendip, Thurrock and Chester, by contrast, are less experienced in partnership working, but conversely (as councils without long experience of education or social services) carry less baggage about the dominating influence of large service departments.

3.6.3 More continuity than change

At the centre, we found compliance and survival cultures prevalent. Some civil servants faced with new policies invented by political processes involving advisers and ministers deplore the speed of the approach to cross-cutting issues, and feel that since they have not originated the policies 'it is not our fault if it goes wrong'. It is felt by others that much good work which has taken place over recent years (under the last government) may be ignored or lost. For example, the consultation on sustainable development fails to acknowledge much of what has been learned and achieved since the first UK Sustainable Development Strategy was drawn up in 1994, whilst 'Our Healthier Nation' fails to acknowledge some positive aspects of 'The Health of the Nation'. Such omissions lead to de-motivation and cynicism amongst some civil servants.

For central departments speed at the start of the policy process (speedy design) together with speed in delivery (instant results) collapses the traditional periods of policy gestation. Some believe that this may result in ill thought out and undeliverable programmes, and some civil servants see the speed of change as a threat, to which the response is to close up and become introspective. Cross-cutting issues such as sustainable development, where the legislative and regulatory frameworks are few and where progress can only be made through voluntary engagement, require commitment to engagement and action from civil servants both within the management of their own departments and in policy formulation. For many officials, this represents a new and sometimes threatening way of working. The survival culture was clearly evident in our interviews.

However, in some departments and for some people, culture shock has engendered positive change. New Deal, for example, has required a fundamental culture change amongst Employment Service staff in the field, which has been brought about by a programme of reskilling and changes in performance management systems to refocus the organisation. Officials welcome innovation, the potential for change and the free thinking after many years of seeing new ideas being stifled. Thus, for many, Social Exclusion is not a policy but more an opportunity to talk about social issues, distribution, polarisation etc. which have been off-limits for a number of years. Community Safety offers a chance to take the wraps off the Morgan proposals, while the proposals for youth justice provide the opportunity to bring about much-needed improvements in co-ordination at local level and a more preventive approach. In health, discussion can focus on wellness as opposed to illness; in regeneration, supplementary guidelines shift the culture of SRB scheme working towards social goals.

The pressure on the civil service to reassess their departmental roles and defend their budgets (through the Comprehensive Spending Review) and at the same time to engage in cross-cutting working (whether stimulated, for example, by the Social Exclusion Unit or spontaneously) has been enormous. It is recognised that new attitudes to local government, to open government, to consumers and users are beginning to shift central government behaviour. But the periphery remains sceptical about the ability of the Civil Service to work corporately. Local perceptions of the centre are that change is starting, but that there is some way to go - 'civil servants need to get their own house in order, and start behaving in the way they want local authorities to act'.

3.6.4 A fundamental driver

Culture does not exist in isolation from other elements in the whole system; it drives and is driven by structures, ways of working, and systems, and above all by motivational factors. Of all the elements in the system culture is the most difficult to change, but unless it does change it is a powerful barrier to progress. Many local authorities at senior level recognise the need for change and are taking steps to bring it about - although progress, especially at middle and junior levels, will take time. In the centre, where the need for change is just as great, there is less understanding of the need for senior managers to help staff to think and work in new ways - crowded out by the challenges of substantive policy development, undervalued within the administrative tradition. If interaction between the levels of government on cross-cutting issues is to become more productive then issues of culture must be addressed at both levels, and together. This echoes the role of leadership as the driver of cultural change and the role of professional and/or departmental cultures in shifting or maintaining organisational culture.

3.7 Capacity

Capacity to deliver is increasingly regarded as a vital element in programme or project approval, and delivery plans or systems are common requirements in many programme management systems. Capacity has two dimensions: strategic capacity (involving a long term view, a sense of direction, shared and explicit values, the exploration of alternatives, setting priorities and making choices, the capacity to build alliances) and capacity to act (quickly where necessary in order to make things happen).

3.7.1 Determinants of capacity

Strategic capacity is a combination of the personal skills of members and officers as key leaders, and is of fundamental importance. In a number of localities - Cheshire and Chester, Sheffield - we collected evidence of new roles and capacities of elected members in relation to joint member/officer boards and panels, in relation to area based working, and in relation to strategic executive management. There was also evidence of strategic cross-party thinking (in Cheshire County and in Chester City) about the locality as a whole. This was balanced by the view expressed in some smaller and rural authorities that the capacity of elected members to think strategically was still limited. 'Old' Labour authorities in particular (or more accurately 'old' Labour members) are struggling with New Labour concepts, and appear to be receiving little support through party political channels. Traditional committee structures inhibit strategic thinking and planning, and many localities are restructuring these.

Resource capacity involves both manpower and money. At central government level in particular, years of manpower cuts have left shortages of staff skilled and experienced in policy work, and a thinly-stretched civil service is struggling to respond to the government's agenda. In terms of financial resources, the issues are not only the inevitable perception that there is not enough money, but also about the way in which funds are made available. Cross-cutting work is often about mixing and packaging resources from different sources, and levering external third party resources into new initiatives. SRB has had a vital capacity building role because resources have been attached to it (albeit with leverage requirements). In contrast, Local Agenda 21 has become a requirement of all local authorities without any extra resources being made available, despite the greatly increased demands for consultation and participation; while in the case of disaffected youth key services are still being cut because of financial resource constraints. There is a tendency to look for additional resources rather than reconfiguring existing resources - a tendency exacerbated by a long history of cuts in mainstream funding and increasing reliance on targeted funding for initiatives such as regeneration.

Many local authorities are seeking better ways of allocating resources. For example, short term funding is a major barrier, and Newcastle is seeking to overcome this by moving to a three year budgetary cycle. Thurrock is experimenting with policy led budgeting, using a decision making model developed by the London School of Economics; scenarios are built around key policy issues; officers, members and the community will assess council activities in terms of their contribution to these as the basis for reallocating resources. Nevertheless introducing radical change is more difficult when resources are constrained and main line services (often carrying statutory responsibilities) demand priority for resources.

Working in partnership requires new skills - listening, negotiation, leadership through influence - and many of the difficulties which partnerships have experienced reflect the lack of these skills. Organisations new to partnership working such as the Employment Service have gone through a steep learning curve; when New Deal was launched the tendency was to see local players first as extensions of the agency's own hierarchy, and then as contractors to be held at arms length. Only now, after much pain, are true partnerships developing, and here progress is patchy - while some areas report very good relationships, in others the Employment Service still seems to see partnership working as 'losing control'.

The capacity to share information and intelligence for joint working is crucial for both strategy and action. There are examples of influential information gathering and use (a Sheffield multi-organisational indicators group working to the City Liaison Group; the Cheshire Research and Intelligence capacity informing their Community Action initiatives; Mendip's comprehensive environmental records available as a GIS system on all computers within the authority). Similarly, in the Essex Community Safety Forum several local authorities, the police and probation service, are planning to develop an integrated database enabling them to target individuals and families for intervention. But we also encountered instances where reluctance to share information was hampering a coherent response to the complex needs of individuals.

We did not encounter any strong demand for new powers or mechanisms, and the proposed new duty of promoting the economic, social and environmental well-being of the area did not emerge as crucial. Local authorities feel inhibited by the constraints and procedures surrounding the use of existing powers rather than feeling the need for new powers (especially if new powers or duties come without new resources). Thus local government would welcome exemptions from some constraints, particularly on public private partnerships and investment ventures, for those who have demonstrated they are worthy of it - perhaps on the basis of a business case.

3.7.2 Building capacity

In building capacity, a key factor is the capacity to learn externally from others. Exchange of good practice directly between local authorities with similar interests is seen as being particularly beneficial (for example, the city networks which are growing up within the EU Sustainable Cities Campaign, other EU and various 'twinning' programmes which by-pass central governmental mechanisms). The Local Government Association (LGA) and the Local Government Management Board (LGMB) play an important role in exchanging good practice. Some authorities have become the fashionable examples from which to learn on specific issues (e.g. Mendip on Local Agenda 21 working). Learning also takes place from consultants, particularly in participation methods (whole systems events, Planning for Real exercises etc.).

Central government plays an ambiguous role in spreading good practice. On the one hand, there are significant dissemination programmes - the Employment Service is seeking to spread learning from the many different local approaches to New Deal, DfEE is sharing learning from New Start, DETR is engaged in a major dissemination programme of publications and seminars on regeneration. There is also much activity within a 'pathfinder/pilot' mode (as in Best Value and New Deal for Communities) with lessons being learned for the roll-out of good practice to all authorities. The DETR research on anti-poverty strategies and 'inclusive regeneration' offers useful advice. Nevertheless, much central advice relates to the better operation of the system and is perceived locally as being the extension of the compliance culture rather than an open learning process. The 'guidance' material on Crime and Disorder and Health Action Zones, for example, seems to represent the transmission of operational advice rather the encouragement to innovative new practice.

In any case, it is not clear what is good practice at a time when so may policies are new and untested, and where is good practice to be found? Until policy direction and preferred outcomes become clearer, it is not clear who is a leader, who is a laggard in good practice. Examples are no good unless there is an understanding as to why they are good practice and how they are transferable between authorities. Local authorities view central advice as being too procedure oriented or alternatively as 'teaching grandmother how to suck eggs'.

Capacity building also means investing in people through improving the ability to work across boundaries. Everyone thinks it is the other person that needs capacity building, but in practice all parties to partnerships require time to learn collective capacity building skills - negotiation, influencing, brokering, networking, resource packaging, information sharing, building trust and so on. New initiatives such as the LGMB leadership programme for councillors may be important in building strategic skills. Nevertheless, local authorities under-invest in training and development for elected members.

At the local level, there is a wide range of learning activity in progress within and between organisations. There seems less evidence of new approaches to capacity building at central levels. We have not heard of many joint training events across departments, of investment in the design of new systems, or of officials preparing new ways of dealing with difficult issues. Where such initiatives have occurred they have been modest (Department of Health civil servants in the Environmental Co-ordination Unit were given two days training following the appointment of the first 'Green' ministers) or directed to programme management (e.g. DETR supported training in project appraisal for SRB partnerships). A notable exception is the major effort devoted to training for New Deal in the Employment Service.

Despite some useful initiatives (Task Forces; LGA Working Groups) we found few examples of joint central-local capacity building for new policies. The Government Offices could take the lead in such capacity building, but do not seem to be doing so. Whilst the centre can learn from local authorities (e.g. in drawing up the waste consultation strategy), central-local learning is focused largely on visiting good practice rather than by subsequent joint work.

3.7.3 A shared responsibility

Capacity is multi-faceted - strategic thinking, staff and financial resources, information, powers, may all act as constraints and tend to reinforce each other. Removing one constraint alone would be ineffective unless all are addressed. Learning about 'what works' and developing the understanding required to adapt this to local circumstances is fundamental, and this requires a shared analysis of the problem and agreement on outcomes to provide a framework within which to evaluate success. There is a need for joint capacity building between central and local government - recognising that neither side has all the answers and that developing the answers is a joint responsibility.

3.8 Motivation

Given the difficulties in generating and sustaining new initiatives on standard as well as cross-cutting issues, motivation is central to the effective working of the whole system. We look first at the incentives and disincentives embedded in central-local relationships, and then at motivating factors operating locally.

3.8.1 Incentives

Central government incentives and rewards have driven system compliance. Often, completion of process (submission of delivery plan) dominates, with no additional reward for achieving real results. Even where results are monitored and acknowledged, attention often focuses on outputs rather than outcomes - which reflects both the lack of clarity about the latter, and measurement problems.

The Audit Commission's performance indicators (PIs) only offer measures of service performance within departmental boundaries and imply a very narrow interpretation of what local authorities do. There are no measures of outcomes for the local community, of community involvement and accountability, or of successful partnership working. It remains to be seen whether the Best Value indicators remedy this.

Health and police authorities are similarly driven by measures of performance in narrow service terms but not by measures reflecting performance on cross-cutting issues. In the field of crime and safety there has been strong emphasis on reduction in crime rates and in success in the capture of offenders. Indicators of reduction in fear of crime are more difficult to assemble (being in general the result of a survey) and do not drive police activity as strongly as crime reduction results.

Within regeneration, there is an emphasis on achieving the outputs promised in delivery plan profiles; thirty nine output measures, all numerically verifiable, are identified in the formal guidance.

Crucially, there are few incentives to take long term early preventive measures. Local players are told they must invest time, money and effort now in order to save later. However, in areas such as youth offending, savings may appear only after a decade - and in the meantime resources are needed to address today's symptoms. The Crime and Disorder Bill, for example, is leaning heavily towards the prevention of re-offending (which is easy to measure) at the likely expense of 'softer' early prevention measures such as work with young children and their families, which in the long term are likely to be more cost effective, but which are much more difficult to measure. Similarly, in the area of social housing, Housing Corporation measures focus on development unit costs to try and ensure that public sector costs and rents are kept as low as possible; however, there is growing recognition that this may conflict with the need for sustainable communities which implies developments of mixed tenure dwellings that people want to live in.

3.8.2 Disincentives

Threat of central intervention if localities do not improve - the 'name and shame' culture - is seen as a great disincentive by many local authorities, undermining the notion of 'partnership' which central government seeks to build. We were told 'This feels like a government of low tolerance; local authorities need to be supported, and that cannot be achieved in a blame culture'. There is a perceived threat that authorities which fail to meet their targets could be penalised in terms of funding, which is seen as perverse and unlikely to address the real need for improvement. There were worries about how Best Value will be 'policed' and about how the extent to which local variations in priorities - perhaps focusing on cross-cutting issues at the expense of mainstream services - will be penalised by benchmarks dominated by the 'average', or focused on narrow definitions of service delivery. There were also concerns about the way in which the various inspectorates - each with its own professional agenda - will approach cross-cutting issues, and whether there will be consistency. All these are powerful disincentives to radical thinking and action; and the benefits of innovation are seen to be outweighed by the risks. The comfortable place to be is in the second wave - few wish to lead unless this brings specific rewards in terms of money, powers or relaxation of rules. In principle, 'beacon' status as proposed in the Government's local democracy plans, allied to genuine rewards, will have the opposite effect, but the balance between positive incentive and negative disincentive remains to be worked through.

Competition has worked as a strong motivator in providing a focus for local partnership working (City Challenge/SRB). But competitive bidding may also be de-motivating, leading to partner fatigue and uncertainty ('is this risk worth our time?') and community disillusionment ('all that effort and we got nothing out of it'). It can also be the source of conflict within local communities, which is damaging to future working. On balance, competition is now seen by many to be more of a demotivator than a motivator.

3.8.3 Perverse incentives

Poor indicators and fragmented policy making leave 'perverse incentives' in the system. For example, schools league tables with their emphasis on examination results have contributed to a sharp rise in exclusions; the excluded children then reappear in the crime statistics. The proposed dowry for schools with a high number of actual/expected exclusions may lead schools to exaggerate the number of potential exclusions, whereas the government actually wants schools to reduce the numbers they declare. Neither this nor the proposal to 'credit' schools with the results of those whom they exclude in the run-up to GCSEs will completely address the fundamental problem caused by the trade-off between exclusions and school performance, which requires a much more holistic approach focusing on outcomes rather than process.

Another example of perverse incentives comes from housing benefit; measuring providers' performance on the basis of the percentage of claims processed within 14 days, without measuring the total time taken, may lead providers to neglect claims that have already passed the 14 days barrier and so worsen the poverty of some claimants.

3.8.4 Leadership and the alignment of local drivers

Motivation often depends on strong leadership. Political or professional leadership can be the key drivers of change and can motivate by being seen as role models for new ways of working. If cross-cutting issues are seen as 'owned' at senior level, this sends powerful messages through the organisation - conversely, putting such issues in the hands of a junior member of staff without the authority or seniority to take the necessary action sends the wrong signals. In several of our case studies, Local Agenda 21 and community safety are in junior hands, while social exclusion, higher on the political agenda, has senior leadership. Political leadership is vital, but the cross-cutting issues are not always popular with local electorates and this poses dilemmas for members. There was little discussion of the potential impact of an 'elected mayor' on local leadership, most authorities appearing to view some form of cabinet with leader as preferable to an elected mayor.

There is a long-standing paradox, both in central and local government, that to drive a new initiative (New Town Development, Social Exclusion, Drug Offending) it has been necessary to establish a new unit. This highlights the issue but makes it more marginal for others, giving them the excuse not to participate fully. Alternatively, floating off new initiatives into the mainstream only results in their being diluted and ultimately losing their visibility. It is clear that the 'whole system' needs driving but the leader/driver role should not be interpreted as giving ownership of any particular issue. Some authorities (Sheffield, Cheshire) have begun to allocate cross-cutting corporate responsibilities to senior officers in combination with their service directorate roles. Others (Chester City) have relieved senior officers of service responsibilities and left them only with corporate responsibilities. Others give responsibility for cross-cutting issues to particular service heads in a form of matrix management (Thurrock). This echoes the central government approach in arguing that responsibility for driving a cross-cutting issue (e.g. Rough Sleepers) should be given to a specific department (under a ministerial Committee). From a research perspective this begs the question whether the Department in question (in this case DETR) should be the one with traditional housing responsibilities. Perhaps the driver should be drawn from a profession/department not historically engaged with the cross-cutting issue.

Reward systems, appraisal, performance review, pay structures are all motivating forces for individuals. Cross-cutting work has often been under-recognised in these terms and has been imposed on top of all the other jobs rather than being explicitly recognised and rewarded. Disincentives include: lack of job security, resource cuts affecting cross-cutting projects, lack of direction, and perceived career risk. Pilots and cross-cutting initiatives are often funded on a short term basis, and the posts created may lack senior management support and may not be properly valued within conventional professional career structures.

Given the uncertainty surrounding many current initiatives and the personal and organisational risk involved, management of perceived risk is an important motivating factor. Partnership represents a mechanism for both risk taking (groups take riskier decisions than individuals) and risk minimisation (joint exposure to competition, sharing blame, resources, the risk involved in bidding etc.).

The capacity to exercise influence on others through bargaining and negotiation also offers strong organisational motivation for partnership working. At a personal level, to be seen as an important player and to earn respect with others provides positive motivation for individuals. The effective use of seniority and status can be important in generating commitment to work on new issues. The level of membership on joint working parties, the presence of members in joint-working, the relative position of junior and senior officers in new structures and the powers they hold are strong motivating (or demotivating) factors.

3.8.5 Celebrate success

Success and achievements are strong motivators at both organisational and individual level, and also offer encouragement to follow up pilots and experimentation. The importance of 'quick wins' is emphasised by politicians and project workers alike. Creating as many success stories as possible would be a powerful way for the Government to get its agenda accepted and widely implemented.

3.9 Evaluation

Evaluation remains an underdeveloped area, still largely focused on monitoring short term outputs and the application of formula driven approaches. The speed of policy change, lack of clarity over desired outcomes, and a range of difficulties in information management impede evaluation, and progress in developing indicators remains modest. Evaluation for the long term (e.g. longitudinal tracking of populations, comparison of area-based baselines with long term impacts) is rare. Despite good practice in some departments and localities, the impression from a number of our interviews was that only lip service is being paid to evaluation, and the need for an evidence base is not really accepted.

3.9.1 Measuring outcomes

The lack of progress on outcome indicators is evidence of system management as the dominant paradigm. There are, however, major methodological difficulties about outcome evaluation which are magnified in work on cross-cutting issues.

A particularly important issue is that because the impact of preventive measures may take some time to appear, this impact is both difficult to measure and attribute to any particular policy intervention, and unappealing as an indicator to politicians and managers looking to demonstrate short term results.

Another difficulty is the prevalence of externalities and spillovers. Interventions have impact beyond the immediate organisation responsible or the area of responsibility in question - indeed, that is why the issues are cross-cutting. Externalities and spillovers - both positive and negative - are hard to identify, far less measure, and there is little incentive for such data to be collected unless it counts towards performance achievement indicators.

There is also confusion over quantitative and qualitative indicators, and a widespread, if mistaken, belief in localities that qualitative indicators are unmeasurable. This is not true and the key question is not quantifiable versus qualitative but whether the measures are verifiable in any systematic way.

Hesitancy at the local level in developing long term thinking is also evident, and localities are looking to central government to lead the way. For example, whilst SRB partnerships are allowed and encouraged to develop indicators of outputs over and above those prescribed by DETR, few do so.

Nevertheless, there are signs of innovative evaluation work in the case studies. Mendip is experimenting with Green Accounting. Sheffield has an Indicators Group working under the umbrella of the City Liaison Group to produce regular Sheffield wide indicators across a range of service and organisational areas, and has additionally commissioned research from the two local universities on evaluation in SRB.

In Cheshire, the R and I unit has long been involved with developing social indicators both for the long-standing Family Stress Area policy but also latterly in relation to a major county-wide Quality of Life survey which in practice was one corner-stone of the County Council's strategy for 'New Cheshire'. The R and I unit, now operating within the Community Development Department, has also undertaken rigorous evaluation work on the County's Community Action Areas.

Elsewhere, the Audit Commission is developing community safety indicators, the Core Cities group is working up indicators to assess social exclusion, as of course is the Social Exclusion Unit itself. Guidance on evaluation is in preparation for SRB Partnerships and a number of partnerships are experimenting with novel evaluation techniques (Sheffield, Thames Gateway, Bristol). Surveys, panels, focus groups, community development indicators, and less conventional mechanisms such as film, theatre, or play are being pursued and disseminated (for example, through the work of the Community Development Foundation). Internationally, through OECD, there is extensive work on urban and sustainability indicators, whilst the European Commission has work in progress on key urban indicators for 58 cities across the EU.

In central government, there are examples of thinking about long term indicators, and of a commitment to systematic and rigorous evaluation, but this is patchy and oriented towards specific policy initiatives rather than broader responses to the cross-cutting issues. The Employment Service evaluation strategy for New Deal combines early learning about what works in terms of structure and process with long term tracking of outcomes. Conversely, the New Deal Environmental Task Force came close to reducing its requirement for the evaluation of environmental and social good in funded projects.

3.9.2 A more integrated approach

There is thought, but as yet little progress, on integrated indicator systems. In Sheffield, it has been argued that an integrated record of young people at risk would be invaluable, combining all education, social service, probation, policy, housing and other records. An individual in need of support could have his or her whole experience of exclusion in a single file, thus allowing agencies to understand better the multiple difficulties facing young people. There are huge technical as well as ethical issues surrounding this kind of thinking but it focuses attention on the individual and his or her 'whole' experience. Similar thinking about small area profiles is in train in Cheshire with a structure for area profiling being developed as the basis from which local areas might prepare their own local profile data.

In Denmark, it has been concluded that the benefit to the individual from sharing information outweighs any structural or ethical drawbacks. A network of schemes have been established involving schools, social services and the police where shared information and co-ordinated action can enable early intervention to prevent criminal behaviour in children and young people.

More effort also needs to be devoted to longitudinal tracking of individuals or areas. Educational research on disaffection is concerned with the tracking issue, whilst SRB Partnerships are aware that long term sustainable regeneration is crucial. Some health indicator work focuses on long term targets (reduced mortality rates). More resources may need to be put into the development of systems and indicators which can be collected over a decade or more towards the rehabilitation of longitudinal evaluation.

Evaluation of the process of partnership - measuring the added value of joint working and organisational synergy (and to what it can be attributed) - is difficult. There is a danger of double counting benefits if everyone counts the added benefits as attributable to their own particular input. But if the focus of interest is a pragmatic one - what works - then attributing benefits becomes less important.

3.9.3 Value for money

Given that in many of the cross-cutting issues there is a wide range of policy responses, some complementary but others alternatives, with widely varying costs and pay-back periods, it is particularly important to undertake rigorous assessment of the relative costs and benefits of different approaches. Without such analysis the merits of long term prevention work rather than short-term alleviation of symptoms remains an assertion. There is some evidence about long term cost-effectiveness (for example, research in the USA into the benefits of nursery education), but on the whole there is as yet little information on value for money in intervention into cross-cutting issues. DETR research has reported on the potential for measuring expenditure flows into small areas as a tool for small area resource management, but as yet it is a not clear whether expenditure analysis can be matched by appropriate output or benefit information.

3.9.4 Closing the loop

Evaluation of the efficacy of implementation processes and the impact of policies is fundamental to learning about 'what works', to inform future policy and influence organisational response. The overall impression is that feedback mechanisms that would enable learning are weak. Evaluation of cross-cutting issues is inherently difficult, and there is a tension between the timescales needed to show results and the speed of politically-driven policy change. There is a need for a longer term focus on the achievement of outcomes, and new approaches to dealing with issues such as externalities and synergy. The lack of agreed criteria for or evidence of success in relation to cross-cutting issues compounds the under-analysis of the problems, and means that to a very considerable extent policy development is proceeding 'blind'.

Chapter 4: Conclusions

A number of powerful drivers are creating conditions at local level where new and more effective responses to cross-cutting issues are possible - unitary status, new management paradigms, responsiveness to users and local communities, and recognition of a new local governance involving multi-stakeholder involvement and partnership. We have found considerable positive action on cross-cutting issues at local level, but there remain real difficulties and even 'good practice' localities are struggling. Drivers towards integrated action at national and regional levels seem weaker. This is reflected in the pressures on local players, where it contributes to the difficulty of 'joined-up' thinking and action.

4.1 The issues

All five cross-cutting issues have significant differences relating to their specific histories, political visibility, and nature. More important, however, are the features they have in common, features which are important in the tracking of success or failure in dealing with joined-up thinking and working.

All the issues:

  • Have a long history of complex policy debate, of inconclusive research, and of an unresolved diversity of perspective about the important causal factors at work.
  • Lack a clear agreed definition of the problem; often two or three competing definitions are bracketed together with each definition attracting a different set of actors and stakeholders and generating different levels of support for any particular intervention.
  • Lack a clear definition of social outcome that commands legitimacy and widespread support amongst the set of complex outcomes that need to be balanced. Thus any individual intervention aimed at achieving any one particular outcome is likely to be contested in social as well as governmental terms.
  • Have a history of government initiatives - often short term - that have been at best partially successful at local and national levels; this history contributes to an evaluation history which is comprised largely of examples of problems and obstacles rather than real agreement about what has worked well.

4.2 The whole Systems Model

A 'whole system' approach offers a helpful diagnostic tool in dealing with the complexity of cross-cutting policy. The difficulties experienced in joint working can be understood in terms of the often perverse interactions between elements in the system.

4.2.1 How a whole systems approach helps

A whole systems framework is based on the assumption that organisational players act rationally based on the balance of drivers and incentives they perceive in the system as a whole. For example, if there are clear rewards for a traditional organisational response, and no rewards for a different response - it is unlikely that 'good practice guidance' will be enough to achieve change. And if best practice guides are usually ignored, it is important to understand why they are ignored, rather than producing more guides. A critical mass of 'drivers' has to be aligned if change is to be made possible.

It is helpful, therefore, not simply to point out negative organisational or individual behaviours, but to understand what are the factors that contribute to these behaviours. In this regard, national government and civil servants can never see themselves as 'outside' the system, or as observers, monitors or controllers, since their actions are crucially important in influencing other players. The signals, systems and rewards developed by national government and by civil servants are as important in driving or inhibiting success as the actions of local players.

Much practical working experience can be explained in terms of the presence of strong organisational boundaries and preoccupations, and of a wide gap between levels - central, regional and local. Professional boundaries exacerbate the problem, and professional alliances which bridge central-local levels reinforce fragmentation in policy development. There is a tendency to 'blame' other levels and other players when things go wrong. We have therefore not separated out national, regional and local levels of government, but have attempted to examine how the elements of the system operate at the interface between levels of government.

Whole systems analysis provides a diagnostic frame for our findings which helps to identify the wide range of factors at work. We recognise the dangers of over simplification, and do not want to reduce the complexity of the whole system to a few factors. Without some lens through which to examine what is happening, however, it is hard to move beyond simple description to analysis. We want to avoid simply 'playing back' local perceptions, and instead offer a more holistic analysis that can offer a way forward at a time of accelerating cross-boundary working.

The whole system involves nine key system drivers - direction, structure, system, organisation, culture, capacity, motivation, consultation and evaluation. It is clear from the case studies that no one of the nine elements we have explored can on its own be seen as a causal factor for successful or unsuccessful implementation. We believe that if change took place in only one of these factors, no appreciable difference would be made.

4.2.2 Positive drivers

To summarise, we found many factors working in a positive direction:

Direction

  • Local players have some freedom to define problems and outcomes to suit local circumstances, and some are beginning to take advantage of this

Consultation

  • Local government is exploring innovative ways to engage local communities; this enhances understanding on both sides, and leads to better solutions, collectively owned

Structure

  • Unitary status is allowing a more cohesive approach in some localities
  • There is recognition of a new local governance involving multi-stakeholder involvement and partnership, and a strong desire to make this work

Systems

  • Local players have a window of opportunity to demonstrate that they can deliver without the requirement for heavy system management

Organisation

  • New management paradigms, flatter management systems, new approaches to corporate working and new democratic processes are facilitating the response to cross-cutting issues
  • Staff at all levels in some local authorities are beginning to be held accountable for results
  • Government proposals to change councillor roles, increase accountability, and require services to be demonstrably 'Best Value' will encourage strategic thinking

Culture

  • Many local authorities are making a determined shift towards a more proactive approach characterised by 'can-do activism' or 'strategic implementation'
  • The challenge of the Government's agenda has brought about similar cultural shifts in parts of the Civil Service, especially those actively involved in implementation

Capacity

  • At the local level, the need to build individual capacity is recognised
  • Local players are actively learning from each other

Motivation

  • Strong leadership and shared values are driving cross-cutting activities at local level
  • Partnership working is a way of managing risks

Evaluation

  • Both local players and the centre are working to develop indicators for cross-cutting issues, although this work has yet to show fruits

4.2.3 Negative drivers

However, negative drivers predominate:

Direction

  • Ambiguity over the definition of the problems, and lack of agreement about the desired outcomes, leads to confused implementation
  • Stated goals are not matched by the measures needed to achieve them
  • There are unresolved conflicts between service area goals and goals for cross-cutting issues
  • Local players are unwilling to distort local priorities to find leverage for central resources

Consultation

  • The speed of policy development over the past year has made it difficult to engage in constructive dialogue resulting in some cynicism at local level

Structure

  • Protected geographical, organisational and professional boundaries inhibit joint working
  • Cross-cutting issues are driven to the margin by strong departmental interests
  • GOs do not effectively bridge the local-central divide
  • County/district tensions lead to duplication and confusion
  • Lack of co-terminosity makes partnership working difficult
  • 'Zonitis' reinforces territorial jealousies and competitiveness
  • Partners often lack sufficiently powerful shared interests

Systems

  • New initiatives are often defined in process terms, which encourages local players to comply with procedures rather than accept ownership of outcome goals
  • Inflexible systems for funding and monitoring performance stifle innovation
  • Over-bureaucratic systems of bidding and reporting, duplicated across funding streams, consume resources unnecessarily
  • Annual funding threatens project continuity
  • Competitive funding is locally divisive

Organisation

  • Traditional 'silo' mentalities, reinforced by professional alliances across local/central government boundaries, are hard to shift and impede inter-disciplinary working
  • Middle managers often retreat into bureaucratic practice, which impedes experimentation and risk taking
  • Front line staff, who must deliver on cross-cutting issues, feel threatened by new responsibilities and the fear of losing their jobs

Culture

  • Many parts of local government are still dominated by a culture of systems compliance, driven by procedures rather than a commitment to outcomes
  • In the civil service, cultural inertia prevails in many areas and the need for managed change does not seem to be high on the agenda

Capacity

  • Capacity is most crucially limited by strategic ability, the skills needed to work in partnership, financial and manpower resources
  • Lack of clarity over policy direction hampers identification of good practice

Motivation

  • The system of incentives and threats from central to local government drives system compliance, and discourages radical thinking and action
  • Competition is more of a demotivator than a motivator
  • Poor indicators and fragmented policy create perverse incentives
  • There are no incentives to invest in early preventive measures, rather, short-term quick fixes

Evaluation

  • There is as yet little evidence of 'what works', so policy is proceeding largely 'blind'.

4.2.4 Positive or negative reinforcement

Positive movement in each of these elements can constitute a driver towards change, while weaknesses or negative movement can create counter-drivers. Figure 3 summarises the circular nature and the component elements of the negative and positive cycles.

What really matters, however, is the extent to which different elements reinforce, complement and strengthen each other, and conversely the extent to which they dilute and undermine each other. Weakness in one area may not matter if it is counter-balanced by strength in another.

However, if the absence of defined problems and outcomes is compounded by weak management, a culture of systems compliance, poor motivation and no effective feedback systems, the likelihood is that new central government initiatives will lead to a lot of rushing around like headless chickens, and the 'rebadging' of current activity, with little attempt to refocus resources or to evaluate progress. Figure 4 illustrates the potential for negatively reinforcing drivers to produce failure in policy design and/or implementation.

Figure 3 The whole system - negative and positive

 Figure 3 The whole system - negative and positive

4.3 Breaking the cycle

If, in relation to a cross-cutting issue, the system is (as in Figure 4, overleaf) negatively reinforcing with lack of problem definition, weak capacity, low motivation and so on, then two forms of action may, in principle, be appropriate. On the one hand, ministers may wish to clarify goals, specify outcomes, instruct civil servants to design systems to assure delivery, and impose compliance. This has been the traditional response, and the tone of Modern Local Government appears to echo this at some points. On the other hand, since the evidence suggests that reliance on tight systems has been counter productive in relation to the cross-cutting issues, a loosening of the compliance mode of implementation is both possible and desirable.

Figure 4 Negative cycles of reinforcement

 Figure 4 Negative cycles of reinforcement

The drivers towards change are new and more positive than they have been in the past. It remains true that there are powerful counter drivers, but as one chief executive put it 'five years ago, ninety nine per cent of the drivers were preventing cross-cutting working. Now its almost fifty-fifty. We are making real progress'. This confirms our conclusions (from our knowledge of local government in general as well as the six case studies in particular) that although there is much room for improvement, and although outdated arrangements and processes are still powerful, there is considerable movement in local governance towards innovative working across boundaries. The potential for intersectoral and interdepartmental collaboration is strong; political and administrative cultures are shifting. If the centre can make similar movements towards flexibility in system design, towards developing trust in local governance, towards relaxing administrative control over experimentation, towards setting incentives for performance not conformance, then the potential for effective responses to cross-cutting issues is considerable.

But central government will have to engage more actively with localities in designing and implementing new initiatives, and will need - at regional as well as central levels - to become an active partner rather than an observer. They must decide and make clear what will be determined centrally, what locally, and leave space for local players to act - then hold them accountable for outcomes.

Cross-cutting 'problems' will always be hard to solve and, if history tells us anything, it is that these or very similar problems will re-emerge in new forms, in new places, with new solutions needed. Much more work is needed therefore on analysis, causal explanation, definition of problems, choice between alternative courses of action, and evaluation of outcomes.

Given the problematic nature of the issues it is essential to include all players and stakeholders further in the definition of problems, in order to generate a shared understanding of, and commitment to, the directions and main drivers of change and to the determination of strategic objectives. This implies new ways of working vertically between levels of government, horizontally within the centre and localities, and in both directions in new forms of matrix management. It means acknowledging the genuinely problematic nature of many of the issues, the differences in view about the relationship between cause and effect, about the likely effects of intervention and about the ways in which impacts and outcomes can be measured. All actors need to be involved in the design of local applications of national policy goals and locally specific solutions to general problems must be further encouraged. This is not to suggest that consensus is always necessary. Different organisations will have different remits and different perspectives on the issues. Strategies need to be negotiated which recognise the separate roles of individual organisations and yet the mutual interdependence of these roles.

4.4 A system in transition?

One of the interesting questions which we have not resolved, is whether the new emphasis on cross-cutting issues represents a system in transition, with structures, systems, culture, capacity slowly being redesigned across local government and other agencies in order to refocus on new ways of doing things, or, whether this will remain a marginal set of government activities, with much of government policy implementation continuing through tried and tested traditional structures.

It is clear that there are advantages to much of the traditional 'silo' based activity, in terms of simplicity and clarity, separation of accountability and audit trails, concentration of professional expertise and accumulation of experience, and organisational focus. It could prove costly both in terms of finance and in loss of organisational focus to redesign the whole of government to deal with all policy on a cross-cutting basis. However, it is also clear that the separation of government intervention on the basis of functional and professional boundaries has contributed to the failure of policy in the areas of disaffected youth, social exclusion, regeneration, community safety and sustainable development. One way of looking at this would be to question the relative importance of policy success in these areas, compared to traditional government policies within narrow professional boundaries, such as council house building, road maintenance, planning, social work provision etc. That is a policy issue, and outside the remit of this research.

The other would be to recognise the likelihood that at local and central government level, traditional departmental delivery structures and systems, and structures and systems for delivering on cross cutting issues, must co-exist. That may mean recognising the value of functional boundaries, and of narrow focus on service delivery in some instances, while understanding that in other circumstances they can act as obstacles to new service configurations. It means creating organisational and inter-organisational practices and behaviours that can cope with both - and developing thinking about when and how functional boundaries and focused professional and technical knowledge is most useful - and what sort of learning and practice exchange works best. It means ensuring that accountability, performance management and careful audit do not suffer, and that new ways of measuring success keep pace with new ways of working. It means also recognising that the balance between traditional ways of doing things and innovative or collaborative approaches must be subject to careful cost-benefit analysis and to the regime of 'best value' to ensure that one sort of duplication or overlap is not replaced by another.

Chapter 5: Lessons for the policy process

In this final section we consider some of the implications of this research for the policy process. Building on the analysis of the previous section, there are some clear lessons for policy - measures which might help to tackle the negative drivers and put in place the positive drivers identified.

The whole period of our work has been characterised by policy evolution as new policies have been announced and earlier proposals developed towards implementation. Towards the end of our research, the Government concluded the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) and issued a White Paper on Modernising Local Government, whilst the Social Exclusion Unit's report on Neighbourhood Renewal was published. All these documents make repeated reference to cross-cutting issues, and offer a range of proposals for improving integration. The Social Exclusion Unit report offers an Action Team to take forward issues relating to 'Joining it up locally'. Our conclusions, and the implications we draw for policy and practice, are in many instances consistent with these policy papers. In one or two specific areas, however, we think that the Local Government White Paper does not go far enough with respect to cross-cutting issues.

The paragraphs below, following the nine themes used throughout the report, summarise the main areas where improvements to the policy formation and delivery process might be found.

5.1 Direction

Current efforts to work across boundaries at central government level should be supported and facilitated - but should not be confined to meetings about planned initiatives. Time should be set aside to share paradigms and build agreed definitions of problems, develop an analysis that draws on a range of professional expertise, and help to build consistent social policy goals and an understanding of how the activities of each Department contribute to these.

Practice exchange between central and local government should not be limited to written reports or 'tourism'. Opportunities for practical working and shared learning across local, regional and central government should be extended to managers and civil servants at all levels. These should be working sessions, not seminars, and where possible should involve multiple stakeholders and local communities. They could, for example, brainstorm clear outcome objectives, share experience from practice and begin to develop solutions to difficult shared problems.

The centre (in consultation with the periphery) should make clear which problems and outcomes are to be defined at national level - and where problems, strategies and outcomes should be defined locally. Processes and systems should be aligned in each case to maximise effectiveness. This may involve tight control in some cases, and greater flexibility in funding mechanisms and performance targets in others to reflect local variation in need and capacity.

Key local stakeholders (with local authorities taking the lead) should set time aside to explore and analyse local cross-cutting issues, and develop shared local outcome goals and strategies in consultation with local communities.

Politicians and policy makers, centrally and locally, need to recognise the value of long term early preventive measures and not get caught up entirely in short term, 'quick-fix' measures. Performance measurement of politicians and managers could reflect their contribution to longer term achievements. Giving service directors responsibility for cross-cutting issues outside their departments seems to be effective at local level. This could be extended to ministers at the centre.

5.2 Consultation

Central government should continue to consult widely, where possible turning passive consultation into active dialogue - within timescales sufficient to digest and explore learning from practice.

More opportunities should be created for central and regional government staff to take part in consultation and learning from local communities, as well as the voluntary sector and business, to increase opportunities for wider exchange of views about what works and why.

It should be recognised that good practice in community consultation is changing fast, and new methods are emerging that support sustained dialogue with diverse communities and help to build consensus. Local government should be actively encouraged to experiment with consultation methods, and to match methodologies to local needs and capacities.

5.3 Structure

The Government Offices for the Regions should play a more proactive role in bridging the local-central divide, acting as a channel of two-way communication and helping to bring local experience into the policy formulation process. The RDAs could also play a helpful role here.

Geographical boundaries should be harmonised where possible, organisational boundaries made more permeable (e.g. through secondments), and cross-boundary learning supported.

In two-tier government, where delivery systems require collaboration, shared statements of aims and protocols for joint working should be established.

Where current structures create wasteful duplication or overlap, local agencies should be enabled to develop new organisational forms, 'virtual organisations' or integrated delivery networks, with integrated systems and resources.

Policy 'zones' have considerable potential, but clarity is needed about whether they are pilots, experiments or attempts to concentrate resources on 'the worst first'- and then the right systems etc. can be established around them. Linking zones collaboratively to the surrounding areas, and exchanging learning and spreading practice is vital to ensuring that zones do not become territorially competitive. The Government should join with local authorities to review the potential of an integrated approach to zonal/small area working within localities.

5.4 Systems

The centre should make bidding systems simpler with fewer 'hoops', more integrated monitoring, flexibility in budget planning, and virement. This should be linked to rigorous evaluation of results.

Local authorities should have better systems for budgeting over time, and greater capacity to reconfigure resources - with recognition that prevention may mean spending outside conventional professional services. Consideration should be given to a locality-based block budget for experimentation on cross-cutting issues (perhaps as part of the measures associated with the new framework of Modern Local Government5).

The centre should allow more space for, and flexibility towards, innovative experimental activities, and relax systems in relation to such experiments while reinforcing strong performance management for permanent programmes and robust evaluation of experiments. Local authorities should, in turn, base funding for voluntary groups more clearly on performance focused on outcomes, and reduce time consuming, bureaucratic processes.

Competition can be helpful in driving new approaches, but its value diminishes over time, it limits experimentation to nationally invented initiatives and it wastes scarce local resources. A process of 'licensing' good local ideas could free up (and possibly fund) competent authorities to try new approaches. A wider repertoire of approaches including accreditation, licensing and competition would add value.

The 'beacon' initiative6 appears to emphasise service excellence ('beacon housing councils, beacon education councils or beacon social service councils. A council which obtains beacon status for a number of its key services will be well placed to apply for overall beacon status'). Our research suggests that it is crucial to recognise and reward excellence in cross-cutting work, and we suggest that the Government introduces a special 'bright beacon' status for localities (partnerships rather than local authorities) to highlight the importance of cross-cutting working.

5.5 Organisation

Restructuring at local authority level, at managerial and political level, has helped to achieve strategic focus. But this is only a first step. Localities should seek ways to break down traditional 'silo' ways of working, and should reinforce structural change with re-alignment of accountabilities at all levels.

Change in ways of working is needed at the front line, with greater flexibility and scope for innovation and continuous improvement. This requires new management skills, greater communication with and involvement of staff, a different approach to accountability and support for staff taking on greater responsibility.

Effective partnership working requires new skills and behaviours from all players. There is considerable knowledge now about what makes partnerships work. Local players should continue to invest time and effort in making partnerships work - recognising that partnerships only work if they offer benefits for all partners. Autonomy, territory and cherished assumptions have to be 'traded' for shared outcomes and new thinking. Cross-agency training, co-location, and permanent project teams help to establish shared understanding and values, while formal 'partnership' contracts can help to clarify mutual expectations and build shared ways of working.

5.6 Culture

Central and local government should develop a greater awareness of organisational cultures, and examine the barriers to change created by attitudes and behaviour through cultural diagnosis and audit, management and organisational development etc. Moving people around through secondments, visits etc. can give managers experience of other organisational cultures, and increase their capacity to diagnose their own.

Local authorities should develop forms of accountability and evaluation that challenge 'system survival' and 'system compliance' cultures, through performance management, appraisal and reward systems. Senior managers and politicians can model collaborative behaviours and 'joined up thinking' for their staff.

5.7 Capacity

There should be investment in capacity building at all levels - national government, regional government, local government and community - and particularly in opportunities that allow managers from all these levels of government (and across departments) to learn together.

Local authorities should build on, and learn from, widespread practice of offering leadership programmes in-house or externally, to senior members and officers. This is not just simply about 'training' - which may not be effective at senior levels. Action learning that links theory to practice can be more effective in helping politicians and managers to develop new skills and capabilities.

Money should be made available for local authorities and partnerships to allow investment in preventive measures which may take many years to show a dividend. Some sort of venture capital fund for localities could be made available if capacity to invest it well was demonstrated.

There seems to be no serious concern about gaps in the powers available at local level. The new duty to secure economic, social and environmental well-being will, presumably, be accompanied by powers to act. A 'licensing' or 'accrediting' system could offer individual local authorities additional powers (or probably more important, freedom from specific constraints).

Research findings and good practice experience needs to be disseminated much more effectively, particularly across professional boundaries. Active feedback and discussion should be used, wherever possible, in place of paper 'good practice guides'. Where guidance is offered it should be specific, and carefully tailored to practical implementation problems - rather than general and vague; good practice is learnt through the exploration of applicability to other situations.

5.8 Motivation

Incentive and reward systems should be designed to reinforce effective implementation and encourage performance not conformance. The government should aim to create as many success stories as possible, as far as possible rely on positive reinforcement rather than negative, and reserve sanctions for situations where drastic action is essential.

Performance management should focus on outcomes rather than outputs, and allow scope for locally defined priorities. Perverse incentives and measures which encourage an undue focus on the short term should be avoided. The balance of priority given to cross-cutting issues by government should be reflected in the balance of indicators against which local authorities are expected to perform.

Reward systems at local level should celebrate and reward success but should also reward learning - and should encourage sensible risk-taking and experimentation.

Local authorities should pay greater attention to risk appraisal and risk management, and should develop a greater capacity to judge and foresee risk, to appraise different options on an evidential basis and to balance risk against possible outcomes. Partnerships offer an opportunity to share and to manage risk more effectively.

5.9 Evaluation

Evaluation should be built-in to all major initiatives at both local and national levels. Politicians should signal that all new initiatives should be tested to see if they work, and give the lead in making it clear that making mistakes, and learning from them, is acceptable and integral to the policy process.

Work is urgently needed to develop better outcome measures, and to work through the methodological problems. At present, these are acting as an excuse for reliance on process or system measurement.

These problems should not prevent 'as good as practicable' evaluation. Local authorities and partnerships should develop and work with outcome measures, however imperfect, and should continue to develop innovative local evaluation systems and build agreement around long term outcome indicators and shorter term milestones. Residents and users should be engaged in evaluation to establish relevant outcome indicators and assess the impact on their lives of cross cutting initiatives.

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Appendix 2: The Cross-cutting Issues

1. Community Safety

The currently recognised term community safety did not exist fifteen years ago. Before then we had 'crime prevention' which was about reducing opportunities to commit crime mostly by fortifying property. Even crime prevention as a concept only became established through the situational research of the 1980s (e.g. Clarke & Mayhew 1980). Previously it had been assumed that potential criminals would be deterred by the full force of the criminal justice system. It became apparent, however, during the 1960s and 1970s, that police, courts and prisons (the main components of the criminal justice system) were having negligible impact on the huge rise in crime over that period. It was only when situational crime prevention had failed to deliver all it promised in the mid 1980s that the 'new realists' (see Lea & Young 1984) articulated the understanding that, as crime has so many causes and consequences, only a complex overlapping series of interventions, at the macro and micro levels, would have much effect.

The dominant emphasis in the last twenty years, therefore, has been on policies which focus on visible and active policing, the apprehension of criminals, tough sentencing and opportunity reduction. Furthermore, policy makers regarded it as the individual's responsibility to avoid becoming a victim through the purchase of security devices and the avoidance of unsafe areas or activities. Only in the last five years or so (and in particular with the new Government) has there been a significant shift to strategies which recognise crime as the product of social conditions and personal development.

The huge post-war growth in recorded crime and, since 1982, recognition through the British Crime Surveys of levels both of unrecorded crime and of subjective elements of victimisation and fear of crime, have gradually awakened a growing commitment to national campaigns and localised crime prevention activities.

Initiated in the mid 1970s (Hedges 1979) neighbourhood crime prevention/community safety has taken a number of forms. One strand - 'designing out crime' reflected the situational approach to prevention through increased physical security, target removal and improved surveillance (Clarke and Mayhew 1980; Allatt 1984). This culminated in Coleman's (1985) design determinism principles and the DoE funded 'Design Improvement Controlled Experiment', a highly influential (if unsubstantiated in research terms - see Price Waterhouse (1997)) interpretation of Newman's (1972) defensible space ideas.

Running parallel to the design/situational approach were a number of initiatives that aimed to engage with individual motivation either through neighbourhood management approaches (Safe Neighbourhoods Unit 1985), community development (Hedges 1979) or by direct work with at-risk groups (NACRO 1988).

Emerging support for community based partnerships and neighbourhood initiatives aimed to reconcile social programmes with design based solutions so that technological security systems were seen to need complementary management support and community development programmes were also recognised as requiring complementary improvements to the physical environment (SNU 1993; Osborne and Shaftoe 1995). The DoE Estate Action programme - largely physical (Pinto 1991;1993; DoE 1991) but incorporating extensive local environmental improvement together with lighting and security - reflected greater awareness of the importance of local management together with multi-sector involvement. Commencing in the 1980s, the Home Office Safer Cities and Crime Concern initiatives reflected the work of NACRO and SNU throughout the 1980s (Hope and Shaw 1988). Only in the last five years or so (and in particular with the new Government) has there been a significant shift to strategies which recognise crime as the product of social conditions, of the opportunities open to potential criminals, and of the vulnerability of people and places to opportunistic crime behaviour.

The theme of partnership, and the incorporation of a strong community safety element within regeneration programmes has also characterised the 1990s and solutions are being sought in community based programmes with the police in partnership rather than as sole agents of prevention. At the national level, the limited impact of media campaigns (such as the burglary magpies and the car crime jackals) and the lack of national strategy led to a rethink resulting in the formation of the Home Office based Crime Prevention Agency and the formulation of the Crime and Disorder Act with a number of sections relating to the promotion of community safety.

From a theoretical and procedural point of view, the ambiguities in community safety practice derive largely from the tension between traditional deterrence methods and a more community based multi-organisational preventative strategy (Gilling 1997). The term community safety has thus been used to make more positive the concept of crime prevention. Current definitions (LGA 1997) incorporate the inhibition of criminal, intimidatory or anti-social behaviour, the reduction of fear of crime as well as the incidence of crime, and the improvement of the quality of life through both situational and offender oriented prevention. But 'safety' remains opaque and the absence of reference to 'safety' in the Crime and Disorder Bill simply reflects the legal as well as the socio-political ambiguities of community safety policy.

The concept of community safety recognises the locational dimension of crime (all offences occur in some 'place/community'), and also importantly acknowledges that there is more to the quality of life than the mere prevention of crime (even assuming that is entirely possible) - the need to reduce fear and to support victims. However, one of the consequences of this move to a broader understanding of what constitutes a safe community, is the recognition and requirement that a far wider range of actors, than just the criminal justice professionals, need to engage with the problem. Thus community safety became a 'cross-cutting issue' that did not fit neatly within traditional boundaries of expertise and responsibility. As the Morgan Report (Home Office 1991) succinctly put it: "The reality is that crime prevention is a peripheral concern for all the agencies, and a truly core activity for none of them, even those agencies which explicitly include crime prevention within their objectives, such as the police and the probation service".

2. Disaffected Youth

Within the literature on youth there seem to be four relevant strands. First there are studies of the numbers, characteristics, aspirations, behaviour and socio-economic position of young people (through census analysis, longitudinal studies, disaggregation of service records etc.), together with more ethnographic or anthropological studies of particular groups or communities of young people. They paint a picture of; varying conditions, growing unemployment, absence from the democratic process, low earnings and/or ineligibility for benefit, financial hardship, vulnerability to ill health, rising homelessness, rising suicide, more petty crime and greater than average vulnerability to crime. As with other groups, the young have been adversely affected by global economic structural change and the emergence of segmented labour markets.

Secondly, and conversely, much of the literature emphasises the dangers of talking of 'young people' as a homogeneous group. There are significant differences reflecting differences in age, race and ethnicity, sexuality, and gender. Even within such categories there are differences of culture and behaviour relating to neighbourhood, peer group norms, housing status and so on. Class has become a more problematic explanatory variable. Thus many discussions of youth start less from a descriptive base of who young people are but focus on role and behaviour. For some, young people are distinguished in part by their visibility and in part by their relative position vis a vis standard adult behaviour and social norms. Thus there are distinctions between the visible but unoccupied 'hangers around' with nothing to do, and the more active offenders/petty criminals disrupting a (perceived) community cohesion through burglary, car theft. Less visible are those on drugs, although the incidence of drug-taking is growing and is widely acknowledged as being a youth habit. Also visible but less harmful are the low achievers - with few qualifications from school or work, little work experience, in temporary jobs, with weak social skills, and lacking confidence. This group is vulnerable to exclusion, to invisibility and to dropping into the state of doing nothing (shaped rather than being shaped). In crude terms the consequence of this is a lack of clarity about the nature of the 'problem'. Two fundamentally different perspectives compete - the one seeing disaffected youth as those who are troubled, the other as those who are troublesome. It is sometimes assumed (incorrectly) that the two are synonymous, and the links between these two perspectives are inadequately researched.

Much of the policy related research merges into analyses which assesses the scope for intervention into youth culture and behaviour, and the merits of alternative initiatives. This includes the literature which underpins the Investing in Young People Strategy in general and New Start in particular (West and Ciotti 1998).

Drawing together these strands of research literature, there emerge a number of key issues relevant to the need for and potential of cross-cutting governance. These include the enduring nature - over two centuries or more - of a moral panic about youth and of concerns to incorporate into the mainstream what is seen as a threat to societal stability and order. Despite this, there is recognition that in the face of global economic forces young people are increasingly marginalised in the labour market, vulnerable in the housing market, and weakly supported by benefit systems. Given this vulnerability, the role of support in easing the problems of transition is crucial, and the function of family, school, peer group, and community in generating such support is central. Conversely, the breakdown of support (from the same institutions but from family above all) creates further vulnerability and the start of cumulative disconnection from established institutions.

There is an ambiguity between young people's desires for autonomy, independence, and a shift from the traditional home on the one hand, and the threats which such independence poses in terms of generating the resources and capacity to sustain an independent life. In addition, there appears to be considerable distance in terms of awareness or understanding of, or interest/participation in, the institutions of democracy, citizenship, and government. There is a consequent reinforcement of feelings of disempowerment and disillusion with the societal rules set by others. The fragmented nature of approaches to the 'young people' group, and the dominance of narrow professional objectives with different services often conflict and prevent an integrated or holistic approach. Central to current policies are the significance given to schools and formal education (not least in current Government policy), and the emphasis on improvement in school performance and young people's achievement. Conversely, there is a gradual recognition of the linkages between educational practice and other aspects of youth life (health, housing etc.) amidst criticism that education (largely through its own fault) has been insufficiently integrated into multi-sectoral activities.

Attempts are being made to take a more integrated approach to policy and service planning for children and young people, notably the role of New Start in provision for the 14-17 age group, and the introduction of Children's Service Plans under the 1989 Children Act. However, our own and other research has shown that these lack organisational clout, having weak links through to the budget allocation and commissioning processes of the constituent agencies. Indeed, the proliferation of plans in and between the many sectors serving young people is now in itself a major problem and is the focus of current work by the Social Exclusion Unit.

3. Regeneration

Regeneration policies and programmes have evolved from the 'traditional' Urban Programme of the late 1960s and 1970s through the Inner Cities programme into a wider regeneration programme currently under review (but until 1998 still open to all localities, urban and rural, large and small). Equally, the focus and content of regeneration work has moved through a number of stages (Lawless 1988; Stewart 1997) from managerialism, to supply side-based economic revitalisation, to a property and development driven regeneration, to the current more integrated social, economic and environmental partnership model. Ends and means have been confused and combined, and until recently social goals have been subservient to economic ones. Current thinking, however, has begun to clarify the agenda. There is formal acknowledgement that in at least some cities polarisation has increased (DETR 1997) and recognition post May 1997 that:

'the goal is to break the vicious circle of deprivation and provide the foundation for sustainable regeneration and wealth creation. The rationale for this is largely social; it is unacceptable in an otherwise prosperous society to have large areas or numbers of people at a substantial and often growing disadvantage. It is also economic - for example the private sector under invests in run-down areas' (DETR 1997)

There is continuing debate as to whether urban policy is or should be about people or places, and the governmental proposals for the New Deal for Communities (Treasury 1998) recognise the tension between these two complementary but sometimes conflicting goals. This issue has bedevilled UK thinking for thirty years. From Holtermann (1975) to Robson and colleagues (1997) there has been argument and discussion about the role and function of area based indicators of deprivation.

In terms of impact, there have been a range of DoE commissioned reviews of the effectiveness of different types of project, but the most authoritative analysis (Robson 1997) whilst pointing to a number of positive impacts also identified the continuing and indeed widening polarisation between the disadvantaged and others. The conclusion was the need to focus and integrate resource allocation and to concentrate on a number of major schemes, although Robson emphasised the importance of small scale resources for individual pockets or small areas of disadvantage. Responding to the integration theme, City Challenge and later SRB drew together differing governmental programmes. With Regeneration resources top-sliced for English Partnerships, for Housing Action Trusts and the rump of the UDCs, the remaining funds were devoted first to City Challenge, to a new Challenge Fund, and latterly to a more focussed twin-track Regeneration Budget which combines concentration of eighty per cent of SRB resources on the sixty seven most disadvantaged localities with recognition of the needs of pockets of deprivation elsewhere. Tightly focussed pathfinders in the New Deal for Communities will complement the SRB programme in a selected number of localities. Commentators note the essentially competitive nature of the regime (and both positive and negative effects from this), the increasing contractualisation and delivery culture within SRB, the importance of leverage and matched funding, and the demand for partnership.

The impact of this competitive regime on both winners (de Groot 1992) and losers (Malpass 1994; Oatley and Lambert 1995) has been significant and even opponents acknowledge the new regime to have had a positive impact upon the mobilisation of local leadership and collaborative capacity building. Thus the formalised competition which characterised urban policy (Oatley 1998) has had a series of consequences running far beyond simplistic 'some win, some lose' outcomes. These consequences include the fact that the capacity to deliver through a multi-sector partnership became more crucial than ever, driving the operation of the Single Regeneration Budget through the Challenge Fund process into an effectual contractualisation of policy implementation. Participation in competition had, and has, to be supported by partnerships representing all those with a key interest, and the building of local coalitions was, therefore, a condition of entry to the many competitions.

The regeneration debate is important because SRB funding has, in practice, resourced much of what has been done under Exclusion, Safety, Youth and Sustainability heads. Regeneration has fostered new approaches in a number of localities unfamiliar with integrated programmes or with partnership. It has begun, however, to raise questions about the costs as well as the benefits of partnership (talking shops, bureaucracy), as well as about the familiar topics such as the merits of an area based approach (and the of the Index of Local Conditions), whether to rely on main programmes or special initiatives, whether to pick the (50) worst areas. There is widespread criticism of the failure of Regeneration policy to move beyond the output focus of Delivery Plans (though less discussion of why localities have not offered more qualitative outcomes rather than being slaves to DoE/DETR specified outputs).

Much of the literature traces the fragmentation of institutional form and the proliferation of new single purpose agencies in the 'Thatcher' years and the emergence of a more integrated but essentially competitive and contractual regime of the 1990s. Partnership has attracted much attention with twin strands of literature exploring first the operation and practice of partnership working (Roberts et al 1995; Hastings 1996; Central Research Unit 1995; Lowndes and Skelcher 1998) and second the issues of access and power within partnerships, and in particular the role of the community in what are argued to be unequal partnerships (Hoggett 1997; Hutchison 1994; Stewart and Taylor 1995; Taylor 1995). In relation to partnership, recent thinking has begun to incorporate a management studies paradigm which explores the theory and practice of joint working, partnership and coalition from the perspective of the creation of collaborative advantage (Huxham 1996).

Competitiveness is now seen as a key attribute of the 'good city'. Deprivation and disadvantage are being redefined in urban policy as being not simply indicators of social injustice but as obstacles to the achievement of economic success. The absence of 'social capital' is seen as an impediment to economic achievement, with urban policy shifting away from the simple resolution of 'problems' (be these of economic disadvantage, physical obsolescence, racial unrest, or social exclusion), and towards the pursuit of a more positive relationship between urban performance and the performance of the economy as a whole.

4. Social Exclusion

The language of exclusion was invented in France and entered the European policy field first through the social policy interests of DGV and subsequently in a wider spatial context by DG XVI. Although the direction of the European policy debate remains unclear (Spicker 1997), the Social Exclusion Unit's Neighbourhood Renewal work (Social Exclusion Unit 1998c) follows closely in the footsteps of the Quartiers en Crise initiative (Jacquier 1990; Dawson et al 1993), the EU Community Initiative URBAN which is the most explicit European Union vehicle in the late 1990s for articulating urban social exclusion, and echoes a range of UK studies of estates (e.g. Power and Tunstall 1996).

It is widely accepted (Room 1997; Lee and Murie 1997) that the roots of the social exclusion debate are to be found in the literature of poverty studies (Townsend 1979). Much of the UK policy interest in exclusion continues to stem from an anti-poverty branch (Alcock et al 1998). Like the growing literature on social exclusion, the LGIU differentiates exclusion from poverty by emphasising the 'relational' factors inherent in the continental model, and by identifying a number of systemic factors which separately or in combination drive marginal individuals or groups into 'exclusion'. Amongst these factors, suggests Berghman (1997), may be the democratic/legal system, the labour market, the welfare system, and the family community system. Inclusion within these systems is evidence of a meaningful citizenship, whilst lack of access to such systems can be seen as the touchstone of exclusion.

The emergence of a new, marginalised and excluded 'poor' led some to propose the existence of an urban underclass (Dahrendorf 1987; Murray 1990), but there is widespread research rejection of the 'underclass' thesis (Bagguley and Mann 1993; Gans 1993; Morris 1993; Boddy et al 1995). There is little evidence of a semi-permanent class in society which either by inclination or by force of circumstances has chosen to disengage itself from the mainstream. Those within this 'underclass' are argued to remain there because cultural, even pathological, tendencies perpetuate their disengagement from mainstream society. The traditional structures of socialisation - family, school, work, church - have ceased to fill their accustomed function. Appropriate policies are those which require the underclass to recognise their position and respond to it. In the absence of efforts to come into the mainstream by the excluded themselves, normalisation is secured through policy measures which either offer incentives for, or impose obligations and/or requirements towards, engagement with mainstream social institutions (e.g. workfare). Much of the Labour Government's policy language echoes this strand of thinking, carrying explicit tones of obligations in return for benefits. Many of the recommendations on school exclusion and truancy for example (Social Exclusion Unit 1998a; 1998b; 1998c) emphasise both parental and pupil obligations.

Many long term unemployed fulfil important family or community functions, and contribute to processes of inclusion. Research on long term unemployment and the threat of social exclusion concludes that the long term unemployed did not feel cut off from family friends and social networks (Clasen, Gould, and Vincent 1997)

Excluded groups are trapped by structural circumstances, and systematic reinforcement of poverty, homelessness, and unemployment is widespread. There is, for example, a strong link between poverty, housing tenure and social exclusion (Lee and Murie 1997) as housing circumstances reflect exclusion but also reinforce and perpetuate it. Economic exclusion (labour market disadvantage) is reinforced by isolation from support networks (of family or welfare state) with educational and health services offered at low levels of service and/or high cost. Socio-economic exclusion in turn is reinforced by political and sometimes legally enforced exclusion. Marginal populations may have no formal political visibility (i.e. may be debarred from representation or have no route through which to exercise political voice) or at worst may simply be deemed not to exist (refugees, illegal immigrants, homeless etc.). Exclusion may again be formalised through absence of rights (e.g. to property, welfare or even presence). Moreover, exclusion can be reinforced by the absence of means of access to information. One key aspect of anti-exclusion practices in cities may thus be the emergence of electronic media based systems which open up channels of communication and indeed power to local communities. Minority cultures are often oppressed, and the identity, religions, language and customs of minority groups are suppressed (whether consciously or not) with the consequent exclusion of variety and diversity in urban culture in general. Ethnic and racial minorities are at risk; additionally, spatial isolation and child care responsibilities discriminate against women, reinforcing a gender based exclusion in marginal estates. Exclusion is not only multi-dimensional, however, but also temporal. Walker (1997) and Buhr and Leibfried (1997) illustrate not simply that the duration of exclusion (e.g. homelessness and/or unemployment and/or not claiming benefit) but also that the incidence and frequency these experiences are important determinants of the nature and permanency or otherwise of the exclusionary experience. A further aspect of time relates to the perpetuation of exclusion intergenerationally, reflecting the long standing - if inconclusive - literature on transmitted deprivation.

5. Sustainable development

It has long been recognised that the natural environment has limited capacity to adapt to the pressures of human activity. The debate internationally since Schumacher (1973) has, however, been more far-reaching than merely what these limits might be and, in a period of increasing technological sophistication, where, and the extent to which, means might found to mitigate them. The Brundtland Report (1987) alerted the political community to the fact that environmental decline on a sufficient scale in any one region has not only severe economic and social effects with global consequences, but also global environmental consequences. While the scientific and policy communities continue to argue over e.g. the details of climate change, there is general acceptance of the basic tenets of sustainability: the precautionary principle in relation to environmental impacts of development, and that equity now and in the future in the distribution of the costs and benefits of resource use is prerequisite to environmental, social and economic stability. The achievement of the Earth Summit (1992) was in bringing together the leaders of resource-hungry economies with those of nations already suffering great social and economic disease from environmental over-exploitation to agree a programme of action (Agenda 21) to be operationalised nationally and locally by signatories. However, little has yet been achieved in terms of change within the institutions of economic and social order (O'Riordan and Voisey, 1997).

The problems with both conceptualising sustainable development and applying the principles derive from the requirement to bridge the very different paradigms of the so-called 'hard' disciplines associated with the environmental sciences, and those of management and social sciences. The extent to which different elements of the capital of 'sustainability' may be substitutable, e.g. whether an increase in human knowledge can compensate for resource losses, is also, be definition, unknown (Pearce et al., 1990). Much research and practice literature deriving from the environmental agenda addresses the concept of 'carrying capacity', which seems to offer the possibility of setting objective limits upon the use of both natural and man-made resources (see e.g. House of Lords 1995). However, this latter is necessarily interpreted differently by various users to reflect their own perceptions of value (see e.g. O'Neill, 1996), and issues such as democratic probity have yet to be addressed at all (e.g. Nagpal and Foltz, 1995). Tensions arise from the potential breadth and scope of sustainable development, both spatially (from global to local) and temporally (from 'as soon as possible' to the very long-term). Relevant policy areas include environment, transport, land use planning and practice, health, technology and business practice, as well as the frameworks for trade; and the instruments which might be brought to bear thus range from legislation and market regulation to systems management and community action. There are problems of definition, measurement, attribution of value, and the use of indicators (e.g. LGMB, 1995; HMSO, 1996). Work continues into green accounting (e.g. Pearce, 1993) and alternatives to GNP as measures of national well-being (e.g. OECD, 1994).

Policy in the UK towards sustainable development emanates from the EU and has been generated at national and local levels. The EC has built upon its four-yearly 'Programmes for Action on the Environment' which originated in 1974, and supports both research and development programmes and a strong Sustainable Cities Campaign which promotes inter-city networking of good practice (CEC, 1996). The 1990 UK White Paper on the Environment 'This Common Inheritance' was the first to attempt to provide a framework in the UK for the integration of environmental, economic and social goals. 'Sustainable Development: The UK Strategy' (UK Government, 1994) and subsequent annual White Papers have set out principles for action by all players and targets to be achieved, building upon Local Agenda 21 (UNCED, 1992). Local government is viewed by central government as a key player (see e.g. LGMB guidance 1993, 1994, UK Government, 1998a). However, it is generally recognised that the growth paradigm and the strength of business interest prevails (e.g. Jacobs, 1991). There is a dominant central commitment to international competitiveness which militates against business and capital engaging with more environmentally and socially beneficial forms of production and management (Welford 1995). Globalisation is fostered by technological, informational and managerial change. Eco-efficiency can be super-imposed but requires concerted international effort of which there is little evidence (Fussler and James, 1996). Localisation, on the other hand, which is the dominant paradigm in the UK, emphasises place, community and individual.

The philosophy of sustainability has far to go to permeate the policy areas which are included in the current UK consultation on sustainable development 'Opportunities for Change' (1998b): production and consumption, building sustainable communities, managing the environment and resources and international co-operation and development. Since the Rio conference, there have been: a Government Panel on Sustainable Development, which offers strategic advice to government; a UK Round Table on Sustainable Development, which has the remit of seeking consensus between delegates from various constituencies; and 'Going for Green', which supports 'flagship' green initiatives. Although rhetoric is strong in current policy documents, and delivery said to be 'only just beginning to come through', sustainable development was, for example, placed only fifth in the objectives of the new Regional Development Agencies, after the 'real' business of economic development rather than as a context for it. Moreover, there remain few dedicated resources (direct public expenditure on sustainability is negligible and the Local Agenda 21 responsibilities require a re-direction of existing budgets) and few useable tools, particularly in engaging with the private sector. Taxation is complex and cannot generally be hypothecated, while in transport and planning, agriculture and fisheries, trade and industry and fiscal policy there remain strong counter pressures. Thus, despite policy shifts in transport, land release, air quality and waste management, the growing development and use of sustainability indicators, and the dissemination of examples of good practice (e.g. Environ, 1996), the evidence of consistent movement towards sustainability is ambiguous. Arguably, this is not simply because the goals are wide-ranging but also because there is such a range of organisations and interest groups of which practices would need radical re-adjustment. Thus, both nationally and locally, sustainable development is politically, institutionally and culturally fragile. Local Agenda 21 development can address process and mechanism but not central issues and values. This makes corporate and intercorporate working difficult, and marginalises sustainability in national and local priority-setting.

Appendix 3: Research Method

A number of research methods were combined to collect and organise information, develop findings and conclusions and form lessons for the policy process. They included:

  • A short literature search undertaken with a view to identifying on the one hand, the complexity and apparent intransigence of the problems associated with the five issues, and on the other hand the nature of the policy and organisational processes which encourage or inhibit joined up working. The literature used is illustrated by the attached bibliography of useful sources (Appendix 1).
  • A range of interviews at the centre of the policy process, (with central government officials, with the Local Government Association, with key national organisations such as professional bodies, and with Government Offices), designed to elicit information about the processes of policy formation and the 'central' view of the problems of policy design and implementation.
  • Six locality case studies undertaken in areas differing by geography, local government type, urban/rural character, as well as by political history, administrative culture and so on. Locality cases involved collection of documentation together with interviews with elected members and officers from local government and other local organisations with an interest in the issues. Interviews covered central or corporate policy staff in authorities together with those responsible for ground level delivery. We also included interviews with Government Office officials in the regions within which we undertook locality cases.
  • Relevant material provided by DETR relating to policy development on cross-cutting issues (e.g. papers from the Comprehensive Spending Review, internal literature reviews of policy research, submission from Government Offices on cross-cutting work and draft research reports on related topics).
  • Documentation from local government, professional associations, national bodies relating to the cross-cutting issues.

    THE LOCALITY CASE STUDIES

     

    Cheshire/ Chester

    Mendip/ Somerset

    Newcastle

    Thurrock

    T. Hamlets

    Sheffield

    Type of Authority

    County/District

    District

    Met. Boro.

    Unitary

    L. Borough

    Met Boro.

    Urban/Rural

    Mixed

    Rural

    Urban

    Mixed

    Urban

    Urban

    Region

    N. West

    S. West

    N. East

    Eastern

    London

    Yorks. & the Humber

1. Central Policy Making

The programme of research on 'central' policy included interviews on each of the four main issues - social exclusion, disaffected youth, community safety, sustainable development - with central government officials in relevant departments, and with key national organisations such as the LGA, national professional associations, voluntary umbrella bodies, CBI. These 'central' interviews were designed to record the views of those with 'top-down' responsibilities for policy development and design, and for the setting of frameworks for implementation at local level (financial, legal, professional, procedural, substantive). The questions to be explored were whether the overlaps, duplication and conflicts identified in our DETR project brief, and the consequent engagement of local players in multiple initiatives, were the result of a failure of local delivery (and in particular of local government and other local actors to act corporately) or whether implementation failure stemmed from weaknesses in policy design. Central interviews aimed to clarify what officials and others defined as the policies involved, what were the mechanisms by which the centre saw implementation occurring, what instruments it used to ensure effective implementation and what obstacles/incentives the centre placed on localities to encourage/deter delivery across departments, organisations and professional boundaries. The simple model was one of 'policy' being fed in at one end of a pipe and coming out muddy, diluted, or discoloured at the other end. To know whether this was the consequence of the pipe (delivery) or of something in the water (policy) we needed to understand the make up and mixture of what went in the first place. It has not been the function of the project to examine corporate working at the centre except to the extent that fragmentation at the centre has an impact on the capacity of the locality to act corporately.

Central interviews followed the following broad structure but developed it as appropriate according to interviewee circumstances and responses.

  • Policy definition: how does the interviewee define the issue under research; what is the nature of the problems which policies seek to address; what are the indicators and/or analyses supporting the existence of the problem and the need for a policy?
  • Expression of policy: how is policy intention expressed - in a consultative paper, circular, ministerial policy speeches, guidance, etc. [Copies/references obtained]
  • Communication to local actors: how are local actors invited/told to be involved in policy delivery; is there a bidding process, general exhortation, Government Office persuasion; are there procedural, professional, administrative, financial frameworks within which implementation must be conducted; is there advice about corporate or inter-organisational working, are partnerships required (written guidance to Partnerships).
  • Mode of policy delivery - is delivery perceived to be characterised by bureaucratic procedure, by regulation of the actions of local actors, by financial appraisal and approval, by professional practice etc.; has the centre thought about delivery and the impact of different approaches to delivery at local level.
  • What obstacles/incentives are seen as being in existence to encourage/deter local delivery across departments, organisations and professional boundaries; what do central actors perceive as the major blockages to integrated working.
  • What monitoring/evaluation procedures are required by the centre; what kinds of outputs and outcomes are required, how is their achievement measured or assessed, what indicators are appropriate - particularly in relation to corporate or inter-organisational working. How is joint action evaluated? who claims the additionality?

2. Locality studies

In each locality the research programme allowed for collection of appropriate documentation about corporate responses to cross-cutting issues (organisational structures, machinery, policy reviews, implementation plans, evaluation reports etc.). There were also around 20 interviews with key local stakeholders to cover both corporate policy making towards cross-cutting issues and inter-departmental/inter-organisational responses. The interviewees varied from locality to locality but the pattern of interviews was in general on the following lines.

  • Chief Executive, key elected member(s), corporate policy/management team, central policy and/or RI officers.
  • Community Safety Officer, Agenda 21 officer, SRB co-ordinator, Economic Development and other officers concerned with social exclusion, youth, area disadvantage initiatives, European programmes etc.
  • Other departmental officers (Education, Community Development, Social Services, Youth, Leisure; 'Area' Officers).
  • Local voluntary sector umbrella group; TEC, Private sector, other external organisations (Probation; Police; Health Authority etc.).

The locality research aimed to identify

(a) methods of corporate inter/corporate working at local level, the local authority philosophy/approach, mechanisms for handling cross-cutting issues in general; a corporate view of the four issues; organisational and procedural arrangements.

(b) in relation to each issue - definitions of problem, assessment of need/extent/incidence of issue, other drivers of local action (political priorities etc.), history of local policy, local leadership (who is running this issue?), policy statements, strategic objectives, programmes/initiatives/actions/tactics, organisation or inter-organisational structures, resources, management of week-to-week processes relating to the issue, expected outputs and outcomes, indicators of outcome, monitoring and evaluation.

(c) the locality perception of the 'centre', what comes down from Whitehall/Regional Office, the incentives or obstacles to local action.

Both central and local interviews were concerned with the processes of building capacity to deal with cross-cutting issues. Therefore all interviews aimed to identify:

  • Problems in implementation, barriers, obstacles failures (and reasons for).
  • Possibilities for improved implementation, joint working, integrated approaches, successes (and reasons for).
  • key elements in cross-cutting working - linkages, connections, partnerships, leverage, information sharing etc.
  • How does the 'whole system' work?
  • Key themes expected to be common to all issues/localities (e.g. partnership, sustainability, accountability, community engagement, partnership, outcome indicators).

In all interviews (over one hundred and twenty), a variety of information recording methods were used combining tape recording, and note taking. Notes on interviews remain confidential to the team. Interviewees were promised individual confidentiality, and this has been observed throughout the reporting process.

1 The case study localities were Cheshire/Chester, Mendip/Somerset, Newcastle, Sheffield, Thurrock, and Tower Hamlets. We are grateful to all those who offered their time and support in the research.

2 Over one hundred and fifty interviews were undertaken, a sixth of them with 'central' interviewees. Quotes (not attributed to individuals) are included in italics within the text.

3 A further brief summary of the issues is at Appendix 2

4 The text of the report contains no references, but Appendix 1 provides a full bibliography of the sources - academic and official - which have supported the arguments set out in the report.

5 Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1998) Modern Local Government: In Touch with the People Cm 4014 London: The Stationery Office. Para. 8.29).

6 Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1998) Modern Local Government: In Touch with the People Cm 4014 London: The Stationery Office. Paras. 2.18-2.25).

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