Brent’s Poverty Commission

Cllr. Ketan Sheth

Brent’s Poverty Commission is a timely description and analysis of where we are at in addressing inequality and poverty. It provides us with a pathway to change the quality of life and life chances of many of our residents.

Improving the flow of information and resources within and between public, social and economic organisations has a crucial role to play in driving up quality of life. If every organisation in our local economy were able and willing to work collaboratively to design services that optimise impact, it could lead to major improvements in outcomes.

The importance of collaboration is increasingly recognised by leaders and policymakers throughout the UK. Where we are able to match capacity and demand and enable better, truly joined-up thinking, there have been impressive results. Our aim in Brent is to provide leaders and improvement teams in our local economies with activities, methods, approaches and skills that can help to make these improvements.

The Poverty Commission describes the steps that policy formers, makers and practioners need to create an environment that is conducive to change. This means the coordination of all processes, systems and resources, across an entire local economy, to deliver effective, efficient, community-centred outcomes in the right setting at the right time and by the right agency.

If we are to tackle poverty, we should also look at how to eliminate the ‘failure demand’ – demand arising from failure to provide a service or to provide it in a timely and effective fashion – that leads to people missing out. This means a structured approach that delivers for our communities and encompasses five key areas of work:

1. Creating a space for partners to come together, build relationships, develop a sense of shared purpose and deliver co-designed solutions.

2. Understanding ‘the current state’ by enabling providers and users to work together to map the processes and identify non-value adding activities.

3. Collecting and analysing data with a view to understanding the root causes of problems and identifying potential solutions that can then be tested.

4. Developing a high level ‘future Brent’ plan underpinned by simple guiding rules that local teams have the flexibility to adapt to fit their own context.

5. Implementing solutions in which all parts of our communities have a shared stake and responsibility and providing opportunities for collaborative reflection and further refinement as outcomes emerge.

Finally, there needs to be a closer configuration between our practice of improvement – where the emphasis is on discovering a way towards a tailored-solutions. Doing so has the potential to greatly improve the quality of life for many in Brent to make their experiences an altogether better one.

Cllr Ketan Sheth is Brent Council’s Chair of the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee

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