Thursday, 10 September 2009

Croydon Deep Diving in Total Place

Pilot projects float a new approach to area spending - Public Finance:

"Croydon Deep Diving in Total Place" What? a lot of waffle that means like other boroughs Croydon's public spending purse is going to be under serious pressure and a bit of joined up thinking is required to look at the bigger picture. A local Nutritionist hopes that looking at the bigger picture will help avoid previous questionable decisions and the lack of money will encourage a little more logical rather than blue sky thinking.

John Atkinson, managing director of the Local Government Association’s Leadership Centre, is co-ordinating the Total Place programme nationally. ‘We’re facing a term where the financial pressure is going to be considerable for a long period,’ he told Public Finance. ‘We’re going to have to start thinking very differently about some of the things we do.’

He sets out three ‘Cs’ – the customer: approaching services from the user’s perspective; count: how much money is spent; and culture: how things are done.

The process has certainly enthused public sector leaders. Jon Rouse, chief executive of the London Borough of Croydon – one of the 13 pilot areas – is excited about the programme’s potential.

"In Croydon, two parallel processes are in train: counting all the money that comes into the borough and a thematic ‘deep dive’. The latter is looking at children’s services, particularly the economic and social gains that can be made by focusing more on early intervention.

Rouse points out that far more money is spent on children as they progress through adolescence than in their first five years of life. This flies in the face of evidence showing that early, targeted interventions can reap a big dividend in terms of preventing social and criminal problems further down the line.

Shared initiatives such as Sure Start children’s centres have concentrated more on institutional structures, he says. But the flow of money through the different services, from midwifery and health visiting to working tax credits, can make a difference in supporting vulnerable families.

‘The idea is to look at the whole range of expenditure input to say: “Is there a better way of organising these, so they are targeted effectively through some sort of predictive methodology on families likely to have most need?”,’ Rouse adds."

The answers say organisations around the UK is staring Croydon Council in the face - preventative medicine. Even Doctors have a limited knowledge of basic nutrition so it's no wonder that parents think it's perfectly acceptable to send their children to school with a can of cola and a bag of crisps

However it's not as simple as 'just say no' says London Nutritionist Yvonne Bishop-Weston "we know from years of campaigning of "No","Don't" , "Stop" on anti smoking campaigns that negative messages don't work. We need to provide positive messages on healthy eating and get clever on motivational solutions. Food is a very emotional thing as we have seen with the reccession - everyone increases comfort eating.

"It's also very important that the authorities don't appear hypocritical, they need to lead by example. What message does it give out that the first thing you see when you walk into Mayday Hospital is a Burger King. It beggars belief that the health authorities at the time could have thought this was a good idea"

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