Children’s services – Kingston and Richmond
In 2012, the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames established a shared Children’s Services Team under the leadership of a joint Director of Children’s Services. In early 2013, the two authorities decided to take the radical step of creating a new social enterprise – Achieving for Children – to deliver these services. The key benefits that the authorities wanted to secure included:
- Improved service quality through an organisation solely focused on children’s social care.
- Engaged and empowered staff through a jointly owned social enterprise that enabled staff involvement in governance, strategic direction and operational management.
- Improved service integration through reducing geographical divisions and creating a truly joint service.
In April 2014 Achieving for Children was established as a Company Limited by Guarantee, jointly owned by the two authorities. It is the first alternative delivery model across the UK providing an integrated suite of children’s services.
Mutual Ventures was appointed by the Cabinet Office’s Mutual Support Programme to support the development of the mutual, including advising on business development and strategic marketing, and helping the mutual team to design and implement new staff engagement practices. A legal partner provided advice on the legal establishment and governance arrangements of Achieving for Children, and the commissioning and transfer agreements with the two parent bodies.
David Fairhurst, Mutual Ventures Director: “This project was particularly interesting due to its considerable scale and its unique proposition, with the entirety of children’s services from the two boroughs in scope. We supported negotiations between the boroughs to ensure the design met the political priorities of both Councils, which were under different political control and leadership. We had to overcome the challenge of removing statutory functions and duties from the local authorities and transferring these safely and securely into the new social enterprise. The success of the project hinged on effective communication between both councils and key stakeholders, and establishing a clear and consistent vision and mission from the start. Throughout the project, I was impressed by the passion and enthusiasm of the team, which acted as a constant reminder of the purpose and desired outcomes for the new organisation.”
Nick Whitfield, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Children’s Services, Achieving for Children: “Mutual Ventures have been an invaluable partner in the design and development of Achieving for Children. Their extensive knowledge of alternative delivery models and ability to propose practical solutions to what have sometimes been seemingly insurmountable challenges has been greatly appreciated. Their clear thinking, friendly questioning and, crucially, awareness of the complexities of children’s social care has been clear, timely and invaluable throughout the journey.”