To build a society that prevents social problems from arising rather than one that copes with their consequences.
At Community Links we know that building fences at the top of the cliff rather than running ambulances at the bottom makes sense socially and financially. Policy that supports earlier action reduces the deficit in ways that sustain positive social change. Making this case now is particularly important because:
- Change creates opportunity. Spending decisions taken at this time could begin a cycle of diminishing support for early action and increasing demand for more acute provision. This could set back the cause of early action by a generation. Alternatively, imaginatively reconfigured services can drive it forward.
- We now have a financial instrument for supporting early action. The first Social Impact Bond launched this year was over subscribed. We need to seize the moment, build the market and develop the potential.
- Ministers including the Prime Minister are apparently sympathetic. The current Allen Review can be useful but needs substance. We must hold feet to the coals.
Lack of funding in the past has constrained development, lack of development has restricted the range of tested programmes and lack of evidence has discouraged funding. We won’t break this impasse bit by bit. We need to develop the case, the funding and the delivery at the same time. The challenge is only partly practical. It is also one of understanding and aspiration. We need to capture the essence of a big goal and to build a sense of possibility and excitement. We are:
- Establishing the case: The Early Action Task Force will be launched in December. It will explore and develop the case for the early action economy publishing 3 reports over 18 months.
- Embedding Transition: A swift and radical switch of resources from acute services to prevention is impractical but incremental migration is realistic. We will be leading work on mechanisms for driving and embedding transition.
- Developing Delivery: We will launch training in the new year on “unpeeling the onion” to build the earlier action mindset and on “networked delivery” because systems can expand where organisations can’t.
Community Links has set up the Early Action Taskforce to make the case for services that prevent problems from arising rather than dealing with their consequences – services which are under threat at the moment. Things like: Advice services; Employment support; Volunteering and Mentoring schemes; Youth clubs and Community activities.
Community Links has brought together charity, business and government leaders including Sir Stuart Etherington, CEO of the National Council of Voluntary Organisations; Demos CEO and ex-minister Kitty Ussher; Martin Brookes, CEO of New Philanthropy Capital; Newham Council CEO Kim Bromley-Derry, and senior figures from Accenture, UBS and Hogan Lovells.
At this early stage we are looking for as many examples as possible of early action in practice – projects or stories from around the UK which demonstrate the power of this approach.
A one-page template so you can tell us your story is available to download from the Community Links website http://www.community-links.org/our-national-work/early-action/