Mutual Ventures

Kingston and Richmond Children’s Services

Two ambitious local authorities, The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, wanted to create a new social enterprise, Achieving for Children, to deliver their Children’s services.

The key benefits that the two organisations sought to secure included:

  • Improved service quality through an organisation solely focused on children’s services;
  • Engaged and empowered staff through a jointly owned social enterprise that enabled staff involvement in governance, strategic direction and operational management; and
  • Improved service integration through reducing geographical divisions and creating a truly joint service.

MV was appointed as a support partner through the Cabinet Office Mutual Support Programme to work with both Councils to develop the new organisation, including advising on business development and strategic marketing, and helping the team to design and implement new staff engagement practices. The work included:

  • Vision and Values: leading a comprehensive process to design and develop the vision and values of the new organisation including staff engagement, research and evidence gathering, and helping to identify the culture the staff wanted the new organisation to fulfil;
  • Service Redesign: supporting the senior management team to define organisational design principles that provided a public service operating model for each service to meet and working with service leads across the 18 core operational service areas to challenge their thinking and design new operating models to enable effective front-line service delivery;
  • Governance and Executive Management Design: working across the two Senior Management Teams to develop effective governance and management structures for the new organisation, with the aim of providing it with the operational freedoms it needs to deliver its vision and develop a more commercial operating approach;
  • Business Planning & Market Development: supporting the new organisation’s leadership team to develop a 5-year business plan, including: extensive market analysis to identify whether the new organisation could provide a traded service offering to other authorities, the market position that the new company would occupy, and how competitive advantage could be developed;
  • Staff Engagement and Culture Change: working with the senior management team to develop their leadership approach, advising on aspects of culture change that would be required including: changing mind-sets towards ‘the possible’, advice on engagement and involvement of staff, and development of the change plan;
  • Supporting negotiations between the Councils, which were under different political control and leadership, to ensure the design met their political priorities; and
  • Supporting the transferring of statutory functions and duties safely and securely into the new social enterprise.

In April 2014 Achieving for Children was established as a Company Limited by Guarantee, jointly owned by the two authorities. It was the first alternative delivery model across the UK providing a fully integrated suite of children’s services, with an initial operating budget of £100 million.

The organisation has subsequently integrated the Windsor and Maidenhead children’s services with the council as an equal partner.

Nick Whitfield, Former Chief Executive AfC: “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.”