Fancy a bit of policy change?

Report from the North East Social Leader’s Network meeting on 1st February 2018, by our Business and Performance Development Manager, Neil Shashoua

Why is this important?

Here at the Consortium, we want change for the better. Our focus is change in health,  wellbeing and care for people in Gateshead and Newcastle. And we do this by working with our members to collaborate with agencies that commission and deliver services to the public so that, together, we are more effective, efficient and deliver what people want, where they want it and at the right time.

That’s often where policy comes in. To understand how we can shape and change policy so that it meets the needs and aspirations of people who benefit from our members’ work, we took part in the first North East Social Leaders event of 2018.

The event

Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North presented his thinking on what policy is, knowing the importance of what policy change looks like, understanding where to apply pressure, and devolution opportunities.

This was followed by live policy change conversations on the changing nature of public services, raising the profile of issues related to women and girls, and Universal Credit.

The reportback

What is policy? Policy is the domain that sits within the spectrum that includes legislation, practice and behaviour. When people talk about policy they are often referring to a number of different domains; including law, practice and behaviour. But policy is different. To give an example, let’s suppose we want to change issues related to immigration and asylum.

The law around this is the Immigration and Asylum Act.

The policy around this is the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme

Practice around this covers resettlement by local authorities

Behaviour around this is about public attitudes to new arrivals

So, anyone wanting to change something related to immigration and asylum would need to first identify what they were most concerned about. This may be one or more than one aspect of legislation, policy, practice, and/or behaviour.

In addition to which domain needs to be changed, it is important to identify where it is that you want this change to take place. This could be at the levels of the

  • Citizen
  • Neighbourhood
  • Local authority
  • Functional economic area (currently the Combined Authorities area)
  • The regional level (tricky to define conclusively as the Government no longer plans at this level in England)
  • The national government level – as a highly centralised country, a lot of power in England is vested at the national level.

Developing a strategy for policy change in the North East

In any policy change activity you need to ask the following

  1. What do you want to change?
  2. What would change look like?
  3. Who actually has the authority/power to make this change?
  4. What are the key points of weakness/influence?
  5. As an organisation
    • What is our role in this change?
    • Where can we work with others?
  6. How long will this change take to make?
  7. What are the milestones?
  8. What are the next steps?

The North East

Ed set out his views on the definition of the North East that fitted in with this framework.

In law, there is no North East of England. Our region does not have the same status in law as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Policy is developed/ handed down to/ implemented by a number of different stakeholders including 12 local authorities, two combined authorities, a metro mayor and a group of other agencies.

Practice and behaviour is about the set of local and shared identities and activities that go on in our region.

In terms of the balance of power in the North East; it’s very much dominated by central government. Ed’s view was that as the North East, we would be in the best position to shape a regional policy by collaborating with the rest of the North of England.

Here’s the full set of Ed’s slides.