Mike Adamson, Managing Director of Operations, British Red Cross, presents us with a future where councils, the voluntary sector and citizens work together as partners.
Councils are now part of community resilience hubs. The hubs have evolved through incarnations of the earlier Health and Wellbeing Boards, but now manage a single community budget.
Having recognised the learning from Scotland’s Change Fund, English councils sought to avoid the same mistake of undervaluing the role of the voluntary sector. The voluntary sector is an equal and valued partner in the hubs.
Social media has continued to fuel citizens’ will and expectation to be actively involved in local scrutiny and decision making. The hubs are increasingly open to citizens and in some areas are citizen-led. Citizens have opportunities to vote on the hubs’ collective goals, as well as the products and services they’d like to see available for them to buy with their individual citizen budgets. Private and state funds are easily integrated and managed now that mobile payments are the norm.
Councils have had to innovate quickly to keep up with the mobile technology advancements seen in countries like Kenya. Self-care and self-management of long-term conditions are widespread thanks to the ease of things like distance learning, medication monitoring and telehealth.
While councils acknowledge that it should have happened earlier, the balance of spending on prevention and early action has increased year-on-year. The single community budget means savings return to the same pot, which has helped to incentivise investment in preventative services, facilities and resources to the point that they now dominate council thinking. It is recognised that this is the only way to ensure that people are not just living longer, but also living well.