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  • Writer's pictureJohn Copps

Effective policy programmes depend on the relationship between central and local government

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

John Copps introduces Mutual Ventures' work to look at what makes successful programmes across central and local government.

With COVID-19, our public servants have had the tough job of trying to control an unseen, unpredictable enemy. In doing so, it has exposed a simple truth: that central and local government are reliant on each other to get things done.

But what does this mean in practice? At Mutual Ventures, we are undertaking some work looking in detail at the features of successful programmes involving central and local government.

At the start of the pandemic, there was a broad acceptance that top down national policy, applied to all parts of the country, was the right way to address the challenges we faced. But following those early days, the debate about the roles of central and local government became increasingly fraught.

To anyone that has worked in the public sector for any length of time, the notion of tension between Westminster and town halls is familiar one. More important, however, is the question of how these tensions can be overcome to ensure successful delivery.

There are no shortages of examples of central and local government working together, with varying degrees of success. In the usual business of government, Whitehall departments (like the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government or the Department for Education for example) run programmes where they set priorities and distribute resources to councils, whilst coordinating learning and evaluation activity from the centre. Among the many recent examples of this include the Troubled Families Programme and the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme.

Our work will look at a number of examples of programmes and include the following key questions:

  • What are the ingredients for successful delivery?

  • How do successful programmes manage the strengths and weaknesses of the different parts of government?

  • How can you resolve friction between different approaches, culture and decision-making between central and local government?

  • What skills are required when working on programmes?

As public services continue to recover from COVID-19, and the government's policy agenda gathers pace, ensuring we learn from best practice in central and local government delivery is as critical as it has ever been.

Whether you are in local or central government, we'd love you to contribute to our work in this area. To get in touch contact

Learn more about Mutual Ventures' work with central government here.


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