Workshop: Place based responses to Covid-19

The Value of Collaborative Leadership

1 May 2020

3 minute read

Key Learning

  • The Value of Collaborative Leadership: The multi-agency relationships that have flourished during current period of intense collaboration can be utilised to drive the recovery in the longer term. Significant value in emergency planning and response structures put in place, with multi-agency emergency committees and recovery boards bringing together public, private, VCSE and education sectors together alongside different levels of devolved government. Places should explore the potential to embed these systems based collaborative frameworks more permanently.
  • Key Delivery Challenges:
    • Uncertainty / Reactive nature of Covid-19 response: It has proved difficult to pre-empt problems with such high levels of incomplete information. Some local authorities are in emergency and reactive mode and firefighting problems as they arise. The situation is changing rapidly, meaning flexibility and agility are key.
    • Filling in existing funding gaps: Unitary and combined authorities are needing to fill the gaps in existing funding exposed by Covid-19 crisis. There is a clear necessity to look at which groups are fallings through these gaps.
  • Potential Mitigators:
    • Flexibility in starting and repurposing funds would be beneficial to unitary and combined authorities. A key area of interest lies in launching innovation funds to adapt local business models, other member places have launched an economic resilience fund.
    • Other members are repurposing existing pots of funding, stemming from a recognition that funding, where possible, needs to facilitate cross-collaboration and systems thinking. For example, programmes that focus on jobs should also consider health and wellbeing if needed. Funding mechanisms must be reflective of practical interdependencies of productivity and wellbeing in how they are distributed.
  • Levelling Up and Inclusive Recovery – Challenges and Opportunities:
    • Employment, Good Work and Resilience: A tension for policymakers may come when unemployment rises – the question of ‘is any job better than no job?’ must be addressed. Local government agencies are keen that the good work agenda is not sacrificed, but express challenges around how struggling employers can be supported to continue to offer good jobs. Rebooting local Living Wage programmes can be an opportunity to help ensure new jobs are well paid. The situation also provides an opportunity to reflect on the significance of certain sectors e.g. care sector to increase investment and improve working conditions and pay.
    • Short Termism vs Long Termism: The short-term response is to mitigate the severity of the immediate impact, but always thinking about the longer term. This means looking to build resilience and tackle existing inequalities. Crucial not to overlook pre-Covid-19 challenges, which will be exacerbated by the crisis.
    • Beyond GDP: A continued focus on GVA by central government does not reflect fully the real problems facing places. Generally, they are using a broader set of indicators to foster inclusive economic growth.
    • There is also an opportunity to build on the current mood of civic compassion –for example through a social, business, government compact.