Friday, 08 January 2010

Community contracts Community contracts (sometimes called neighbourhood or community agreements or charters) are voluntary agreements between residents, local service providers and elected representatives that aim to improve conditions in a defined area. Here's the first evaluation of the idea based on a pilot programme, with management support from the National Association for Neighbourhood Management, which covered eleven areas. (The evaluation included six cases study areas, two of which were not from the pilot programme). Among the findings that caught my eye: for contracts to be successful, neighbourhood or locality based working needed to be in place a history of partnership working contributed to the development of contracts (frankly if a local service provider has not got a history of partnership working by now, you have to question whether they should be in business) the absence of accessible and smooth running routes for reporting by residents of service and neighbourhood issues to service providers presented a barrier to the effective operation of contracts (er, if you need a big chunk of public research money to tell you that, I have to question whether you should be in government) a core group of active residents was needed to develop and deliver contracts (alright I'll shut up now) there was a clear correlation between effective governance and effective contracts. The report notes that there were plans for extending contracts 'to tackle other service and policy areas, including health and education'. And, not the least important insight: 'the evidence strongly suggests that this is not a policy for less affluent areas only, as it could contribute towards the management of expectations in more affluent areas, add to allocative efficiencies across an authority, by better matching services to citizens’ wishes, and play a role in discussions about distributive efficiencies.'

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