West Midlands Region Update December 2018

Regional Improvement Alliance

  • Self-evaluation and challenge cycle

This year’s self-evaluation cycle is underway. In the light of reflections from previous years, and to strengthen the value of peer challenge activity, there will be a series of peer challenge visits between small groups of LAs commencing in the New Year. Following that, and the identification of strengths and areas for development from moderation processes, a regional showcase and learning event will take place in the spring followed by regional improvement activity.

  • Improvement support

Following the region’s bid for funding, the DfE has confirmed a £300k grant to support the following areas of improvement activity:

  • Resource to release time for people to undertake improvement activities
  • Leadership and management development, including succession planning, coaching and mentoring.

The region is also making good use of Partners in Practice activity with nine out of fourteen local authorities engaging with Partner in Practice to focus on different areas of improvement.

  • System engagement

Governance discussions have identified that the engagement and involvement of chief executives and directors of finance needs strengthening. Through discussions with regional ADASS and DPH colleagues it has been agreed that there is merit in strengthening that engagement through a People focus, rather than each sector having their own event, and reinforcing the lobbying messages. A regional workshop is being developed for the early spring with the support of the LGA.

DCS Residential November 18

The DCS network residential, ‘Managing risk and demand - our people: our places’, sponsored by the LGA, took place at Warwick University on the 27/ 28 November. This is now an established element of the regional improvement work and has been important in the building of a common vision and consensus about improvement and regional opportunities.

The focus this year was on our cross-cutting theme; managing risk and demand; recognising the systems leadership role needed. Assistant directors were involved in some aspects of the programme as part of the succession planning and improvement thinking.


An agency showcase event took place to focus on permanent staffing. The aim of the event, which involved nine agencies and 14 Councils and Trusts, was to facilitate access to the agencies permanent offerings and to scope the potential for collaborative action. The comments below represent typical responses to the event:

  • From an Agency, “It is an excellent idea to invite agencies in to a presentation of this nature as it really forces us to think about what we offer, how we can do more and where a direct relationship with agencies could be beneficial for organisations in your region. With local authorities under increasing pressure it is refreshing to see them coming to us to see where we can be innovative. It is also incumbent on us to ensure solutions are achievable, cost effective and fulfil an actual need.”
  • From a local authority, “Well done for bringing everyone together. Important for follow up sessions to be arranged asap to keep up the momentum.”.

Migration Fund

Grants have now been released to all 14 local authorities for their work with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Funding for the voluntary sector, aimed at creating a sustainable model, will be released in January. The training programme is shaping up.

West Midlands Safe Centre Feasibility Study

The region was successful in securing funding from the DfE to carry out a feasibility study for a new secure unit in the region. A hub and spoke approach is proposed to support young people in times of crisis and step-down arrangements will also be on offer to boost resilience and prevent further crises. If successful, the initial feasibility study will lead into a design phase (2019/20) and then a building phase (2020/21).

Troubled Families Unit

We are working with the Troubled Families Unit to address our conversion from attachments to payment by results. Several authorities have recovery plans and are working hard to rectify the matter.

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