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Case study: Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

Client: Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council

Date: April 2018 - December 2018

Challenges faced by the client: Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) and Peterborough City Council (PCC) Children’s Services were under considerable pressure due to rising demand, reductions in central Government funding and high levels of staff turnover. In response to these challenges, in 2017 a joint Directorate for People and Communities was set up with a single Leadership Team operating across a wide range of services, including Children’s Services. Wider work was also taking place to integrate services across the region via the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

The time was therefore right for the two Local Authorities to consider whether to move towards closer integration between the two services and the best way of achieving this to deliver economies of scale while continuing to improve outcomes for children, young people and families.

Support offered: We were commissioned by CCC and PCC to carry out an options appraisal for the future delivery model for their Children’s Services, including the potential for an alternative delivery model with greater levels of staff engagement and involvement. Our support was partly funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) via the Mutuals Support Programme 2.

We worked with the Leadership Team across the joint People and Communities Directorate to explore all the options, drawing on our extensive experience of setting up alternative delivery models for Children’s Services. This included identifying the full range of delivery model options, understanding what these would look like in the local context, agreeing the services and budgets that could be in scope for any new model and considering the potential role of the Combined Authority. We collectively identified two shortlisted models to be analysed in more detail – an in-house commissioned model and a bespoke new organisation jointly owned by CCC and PCC. For each of these options, we developed a detailed proposition and identified the key next steps that would need to be taken to further examine and implement each model.

Outcome achieved: Our support allowed CCC and PCC to think through both the current level of integration between the two services and the scope and best delivery model for their future plans to integrate their children's services functions. Our work helped the team consider a number of important strategic and operational issues including the best way to engage and motivate staff along the integration journey and how to reconcile differing models of social work practice, the freedoms and flexibilities that might be required to continue the improvement journey within children's services and the benefits of and barriers to closer integration between the two councils. Our final report also facilitated a helpful strategic conversation with the lead members from both councils on their future vision for children's services.


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