PSA16 and local area agreements

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Since their introduction in the 1998 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), Public Service Agreements (PSAs) have played a vital role in galvanising public service delivery and driving major improvements in outcomes. The 2007 CSR announced 30 new PSAs setting a vision for continuous and accelerated improvement in the Government's priority outcomes over the CSR07 period. Public Service Agreements were abolished by the Coalition Government in 2010.

What were PSAs?
New PSAs set out the key priority outcomes the Government wanted to achieve in the 2008-2011 spending period. Each PSA was underpinned by a single Delivery Agreement shared across all contributing departments and developed in consultation with delivery partners and frontline workers.

They also described the small basket of national outcome-focussed performance indicators that were used to measure progress towards each PSA. A subset of indicators also had specific national targets or minimum standards attached, and details were set out in the relevant Delivery Agreement. All other national indicators were expected to improve against baseline trends over the course of the spending period.

A Government-wide commitment to build services around the needs of citizens and businesses was integral to the achievement of each of the PSA outcomes. The Government also published a Service Transformation Agreement, which underpinned delivery of the PSA framework, setting out the Government's vision for building services around the citizen and specific actions for each department in taking forward this agenda.

The PSA Delivery Agreements are all available below:

Fairness and Opportunity for All
Click on the links below to view the individual public service agreements that make up this block:

Public Service Agreement 16
PSA16 had a focus on addressing social exclusion by supporting housing and employment outcomes for four of the most excluded customer groups identified in the Government’s social exclusion action plan, Reaching Out. These groups were ex-offenders, care leavers, people with learning disabilities and people using secondary mental health services.

The Cabinet Office led on PSA16 and it established national indicators for local authorities and local strategic partnerships to reflect the proportions within each group who are in suitable accommodation and for the proportions in employment. A handbook of definitions for each of these indicators (NI 143-NI 150) was published on the DCLG website.

Baseline data on the performance of individual authorities was issued to local authorities. Some of the data, eg that for NI 150 (proportion of adults using secondary mental health services who are in employment), is based on proxy data from healthcare surveys. Health Trusts are still collecting data through the Mental Health Minimum Data Set.

Regional PSA16 delivery boards were established across England and collaborated with partners in implementing regional plans. The regional boards reported to national cross-Government structures. Each region's plans were overseen by the Deputy Regional Directors of Social Care and each region had a lead officer for PSA16.

Local authorities were encouraged to include social exclusion indicators within their local area agreements but this was hampered by the lack of robust baseline data. Those authorities whose baseline performance was amongst the poorest were encouraged to identify actions that would assist the meeting of the PSA16 targets. This involved including particular actions to address needs under a wider indicator such as NI 152 (working age [people on out of work benefits) or NI 153 (working age people on out of work benefits in the worst performing neighbourhoods). Some authorities set local indicators for social inclusion.

Local Area Agreements
Local Area Agreements (LAAs) were introduced in July 2004 to give local authorities more control over their finances and more freedom to work in innovative ways to benefit their communities.

A LAA was a three-year agreement based on the local Sustainable Community Strategy, setting out the priorities for a local area. The agreement was negotiated between central government, represented by the regional Government Office, and the local area, represented by the lead local authority and other key partners through the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP).

LAAs simplified the number of funding streams from central government, helped to join up public services and allowed greater flexibility for local solutions. They empowered local authorities to make decisions and reduce bureaucracy. Local Area Agreements were a new way of striking a deal between central Government, local authorities and major local delivery partners in an area.

The Local Government White Paper, Strong and Prosperous Communities, published in October 2006, set out new arrangements to strengthen the role of LAAs. The need to structure around the current blocks or themes was removed as it is re-emphasised that LAAs should be the delivery plan for updated Sustainable Community Strategies.

LEach LAA had 35 targets that are drawn from the National Indicator Set (NIS) of 199 indicators. These targets covered all activities that the local authorities and their partners were responsible for. They were also able to set additional local targets and these targets were not subject to the LAA performance monitoring framework.

LAAs focused on a range of outcomes shared by all delivery partners locally. The last agreements were structured around four key blocks or themes:

  • children and young people
  • safer and stronger communities
  • health and older people
  • economic development and enterprise.