Background and Challenges
Lancashire County Council was awarded £9.9m by the Department of Work and Pensions to provide household support to the residents of Lancashire, providing grants to recipients for support with food, energy and water, housing costs and other essentials, as well as free school meals, children and family wellbeing services and other support.
Lancashire County Council commissioned Trueman Change to support the rollout and management of the Household Support Fund, to ensure effective management and reporting of fund spending, and to maximise the positive impacts of the funding in the community.
Our key challenge was doing justice to the importance of reflecting community voices in policy-making! We know that local authorities want to shape services with the whole local community in mind, so we wanted to bring to the table as much information as we could from the diverse range of views from people with a huge range of life experience in the city. We made sure that people’s voices were heard in groups that can sometimes be underrepresented and it’s great to know that these voices have become an important part of shaping the future of health and wellbeing in the city through our work.
Key challenges were:
- Managing the fund over time against a backdrop of pressures on local authorities and making sure that spending was monitored and maximised despite these pressures
- Projecting spending, identifying risks to spending, and redistributing funds where needed ahead of time, taking into account the changing influences of the COVID pandemic
- Encouraging separate districts to work together in partnership to deliver and report upon Household
- Support Fund spending, aligning districts with a common purpose
Trueman Change Involvement
First, we helped Lancashire County Council to set up some structure to monitor grant fund spending at regular intervals throughout the rollout of the funding programme, so that issues and risks could be highlighted and managed ahead of time. This helped with projecting spending and redistributing funds where needed.
Then, we set up management information reporting schedules with the Household Support Fund working group and issued templates to standardise the reporting process, making it easier to analyse and monitor spending across the range of authorities.
We provided extra capacity to collate and analyse data throughout phase one of the programme, providing regular summaries and reports to help make decisions and to ensure that Department of Work and Pensions criteria and requirements were being met. Lancashire County Council used our data and summaries to make sure that spending was on track and was being distributed to recipients in the right ways.
We supported Lancashire County Council with statutory submissions of data to Department of Work and Pensions, and provided a full report analysing spending profiles by districts and wider spending streams, by household composition and category.
In phase one, we provided a blueprint for continuing support in phase two of Household Support Fund roll out and delivery, with recommendations on how to manage this.
Outcomes and Solutions
From our work, Lancashire County Council have benefitted from additional skills and capacity to support effective delivery funding rollout to households in the local community, and have gained clarity and confidence in their approach to spending Household Support Fund grants with our support. As a result, residents in the Lancashire area have been able to gain maximum benefit from the Household Support Fund grants awarded, lending towards greater positive socio-economic impacts in the local area as a result.
Additional Value Added
We aimed to deliver added value for our client through being flexible and responsive given the changing nature of the cost of living crisis being faced in the wake of the COVID pandemic. We’ve worked closely together with regular updates to make sure that data and evidence was driving decision making in a real-time approach.
Get it done:
Partners appreciate extra notice to meet external deadlines, with helpful reminders, allowing for questions and clarifications
Partners need to feel supported in their activity by checking in regularly outside of deadline windows and allowing conversations around any difficulties or concerns, or tricky aspects of rollout.
Get it right:
Being organised is key! Lots of data needs to be brought together to make this work, and it needs to be clear and structured.
Reports need to be balanced between financial information and wider spending aspects. Figures in context is best all round!
Make it better:
Supporting the challenging aspects of grant fund management means that LCC could focus on the aims of the task, and feel reassured that things are being managed well. This is made easier by regular check-ins to raise issues early on, and ensure all milestones are met with the right preparation and decisions can be made ahead of time.
Working across 12 districts means bringing lots of partners together to a common aim. This is a challenge, but is also a fantastic way to make friends across Lancashire! The more we get to know each other the easier it becomes to deliver on the common aims, and we can do more of this.
Be your best:
The Trueman Change team applied our specialist change management skills to this work, meaning that we can organise and drive change where it is needed most – in communities! And LCC brought their long-standing networks and resident focus to the table to ensure the HSF was delivered in the best possible way, with the greatest possible social impact. A perfect skills match!