Date: 11 December 2013
ISBN: Only available online
Committee: Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister
DSC Signature Programmes Event Report V2 .pdf (309.48 kb)
Download the full report here.
1. The Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (‘the Committee’) agreed that scrutiny of the Delivering Social Change Signature Programmes would be a strategic priority for the Committee for the 2013-14 session.
2. In October 2012 the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) announced the development of six Signature Programmes under the Delivering Social Change framework:
- Improving Literacy and Numeracy – led by Department of Education
- Nurture Units – led by the Department of Social Development and Department of Education
- Social Enterprise Incubation Hubs – led by the Department of Social Development and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
- Positive Parenting – led by the Department of Health, Social Security and Public Safety
- Family Support Hubs – led by the Department of Health, Social Security and Public Safety
- Community Family Support Programme – led by the Department of Employment and Learning
3. While the delivery and implementation of the Signature Programmes is the responsibility of a number of Executive departments, the allocated budget for these Programmes is drawn from the Delivering Social Change Central Fund for which OFMDFM has management and governance responsibility.
4. The Committee wished to gather evidence from stakeholders on the Signature Programmes. Recognising the wide range of stakeholders involved, the Committee agreed at its meeting of 18 September 2013 to hold an event to gather evidence on the views of stakeholders and to provide a platform for discussion on potential enhancement of the Programmes. The Committee convened an event comprising relevant government departments, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), members of the Committee for OFMDFM and stakeholders from the public and private sector.
5. The stakeholder event was held on 13 November 2013 in Parliament Buildings and discussions covered four themes:
- Experience of delivery and implementation to date
- Challenges and opportunities of the Programme delivery mechanisms
- Innovative ideas to support effective delivery of the Programmes
- Suggestions for future Signature Programmes
6. A number of key issues which were common across the Signature Programmes were raised:
- Perceived lack of joined up working
- Perceived lack of consultation
- Difficulties in measurement of outcomes
- Need for long term planning
- Importance of identifying best practice and information sharing
- Need for clarity of message and awareness raising
7. The evidence gathered from stakeholders at this event has informed a number of Committee recommendations which will be forwarded to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister for consideration and response.
8. In addition, challenges and opportunities unique to each Signature Programme were identified as well as suggestions for future Signature Programmes. The Committee will forward the key issues raised for each specific Programme to the lead Executive
departments and the respective Assembly committees for consideration and comment.
Joined up working
9. The Committee does acknowledge the challenge of joined up working on such complex issues and welcomes that Delivering Social Change is a cross cutting Executive initiative aimed at integrating means of tacking poverty and social exclusion into departmental
10. The Committee however believes that effective policy design at the outset can include ways to tackle barriers to effective implementation such as: development of shared objectives with stakeholders; clarity of purpose of the Programme including clarity of roles of all stakeholders; integration of the Programme into departmental and stakeholder business plans; and early establishment of practical mechanisms for facilitating joined up working.
The Committee recommends that lead departments re-evaluate the policy design process for the Signature Programmes in advance of any future tranche of Programmes. The Committee also recommends that lead departments further consider the establishment of
working groups or project teams which include key providers and stakeholders including other relevant departments where information can be shared and early resolution of issues can be sought.
11. In overseeing implementation of the Delivering Social Change Framework, the Committee recommends that OFMDFM should seek to ensure that effective and timely consultation is undertaken which includes engagement with organisations, groups and individuals who are experienced in the respective fields of future programmes.
12. As the overseeing department, OFMDFM should seek to ensure that all lead departments for delivery of these Programmes can evidence a sufficient level of consultation. The Committee believes that a greater degree of sustained engagement and joined up working between departments and stakeholders could potentially address some issues for the current Programmes. The Committee also recommends that in advance of announcement of any future tranche of Signature Programmes, comprehensive consultation is undertaken with practitioners in the relevant fields.
Measurement of outcomes
13. The Committee believes that the tools of monitoring and evaluating the Programmes should have been clearly defined in advance of initiation of the Programmes. The Committee believes that a more comprehensive consultation with experienced practitioners and
organisations in these fields would have assisted the departments in identifying realistic, timely and measureable outcomes. The Committee recommends that as the overseeing department, OFMDFM works closely with the lead departments in defining measurable outcomes which can be used to determine the success of interventions which can be mainstreamed into Executive policy in the future.
Long term plans
14. The Committee acknowledges that the outcomes from these Programmes will be longitudinal and acknowledges the challenges of government terms. The Committee recommends that the Executive could seek a cross party commitment to continuation of the
Delivering Social Change Framework for the next mandate in order to secure the longer term focus on these complex issues. The Committee however does acknowledge that during the next mandate, any number of prevailing challenges such as the economic climate may put pressure on Executive priorities and budgetary allocations.
Best practice and information sharing
15. The Committee recommends that lead departments work with stakeholders to gather and capture information on best practice and innovation in the domains of the Programmes in order to develop an effective legacy of sharing of information. While acknowledging the challenges of gathering this information, the Committee believes that capture of this information will be vital in enhancement of current and development of future services.
16. In gathering this information, the Committee recommends that lead departments seek to ensure that delivery partners also gather views from service users in order to reflect on their experiences.
Clarity of message and awareness raising
17. The Committee recommends that lead departments consider how to raise awareness of the Programmes. Consistent and clear communication of the Programme aims would contribute to greater clarity on the Programmes and support greater take up of the services offered. Branding of the Programmes with a clear identity would support delivery partners highlighting the services offered and would also facilitate a greater level of signposting.
18. The Committee believes that a communications plan should have been an integral part of the implementation plan for the Signature Programmes and recommends that this element is included in any future plans for further Programmes.