• Andrew Laird

Family Hubs – the people bit of Levelling Up

Andrew Laird looks at the government’s plans for Family Hubs and the opportunity new funding offers local authorities seeking to support their most vulnerable residents.

Everyone knows that “levelling up” is the key domestic agenda item for this government. Most of the talk so far has been about physical infrastructure and many areas (including our clients in Newham, Ealing and West Lindsey) have already successfully bid to the Levelling Up Fund to improve their town centres, transport access or invest in cultural assets.


But physical infrastructure is only one side of the levelling up coin. Real levelling up is about people – not roads and buildings – and is where Family Hubs come into play.


The concept of Family Hubs has been long in the making and draws on the learnings of the Troubled Families programme, the experience of Sure Start centres, and the thinking of Hilary Cottam, Andrea Leadsom and others. The core idea is to provide a single ‘front door’ to a range of early help, public health, and wider support services for families, including health visiting, midwifery, mental health support, safeguarding, and services relating to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.


New funding for local authorities


The Family Hubs agenda has received a substantial cash boost with up to £1m being made available through the ‘Family Hubs: Local Transformation Fund’ for at least 12 councils. The window is tight with the opportunity to bid for funding set to close on 17th December 2021.


Alongside this announcement, the Government has published a useful framework to aid councils in developing their own Family Hubs models based around services being ‘more accessible’, ‘better connected’ and ‘relationship centred’. Within this, there is substantial scope for local variation as it is recognised that Family Hubs need to focus on the specific challenges in their area, make use of local assets and develop organically in a way that works for communities.


We love this idea!


At Mutual Ventures, we love the concept of Family Hubs. Areas such as Essex, Doncaster, the Isle of Wight and Wigan were deploying integrated models long before the pandemic hit. However, the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated to a much wider group of people just how powerful this type of work can be.


Equipped with the right data and permission to work differently, Family Hubs’ ultra-localised early-help model can stop families and individuals being passed from pillar-to-post and prevent difficult cases falling between the cracks. They can improve lives by targeting those most in need, prevent unnecessary referrals to statutory services, and improve the experience of professionals. They can showcase local co-operation at its best, helping level up opportunity for vulnerable children and families.


What next?


If you are thinking about Family Hubs in your area, Mutual Ventures can help. We are experts in integrating public services and developing new, radical ways of working. We are ready to support you and your partners to explore, design and implement Family Hubs in your area. Please get in touch if you are interested in an initial conversation about your ideas.


For more detail of our Family Hubs offer click here.


If you want to hear more about Family Hubs in Essex, Doncaster and the Isle of Wight, you can catch up on our webinar.