The overall aim of this evaluation is to provide robust and timely information on the implementation of the Flexible Funding Programme.
This extra freedom aims to allow for a more strategic approach in delivering early intervention, prevention and support.
Although the Flexible Funding programme remains in an early stage of delivery, which means that a conclusive picture of the success, or otherwise, of the programme is yet to emerge, the interim findings do show initial signs of some positive developments in programme delivery.
The common interim themes show:
- it is still early in the day for programme implementation; review activities dominate, and business cases are still being created to help drive implementation forward.
- progress is most commonly linked to an existing ‘framework’ or a process for delivery of the programme agenda.
- several local authorities already demonstrate joint working including some ‘flexibility’ in the use of funding. Yet many local authority approaches to using flexibility in funding are ‘non-strategic’.
- a range of early delivery approaches have mainly focussed on bringing people together, facilitating ‘new’ conversations, reviewing and assessing the service user journey. Some have also found that the current programme management infrastructure (IT) doesn’t provide the right information on service users’ experiences.
- many early approaches predate the operation of the different programmes demonstrating an underlying legacy of joint working. Alignment is most pronounced in local authorities in both housing-related support services and non-housing-related areas in particular grants - Families First, Flying Start, Legacy Fund and Supporting People.
- Senior Leadership Team sign up to the aims and ambitions of the Flexible Funding programme, particularly those driving local delivery, is critical for successful progress. This must be across a range of levels from the top down, to drive consistent messaging.
- there is a reticence amongst some authorities to be innovative because they are not sure Welsh Government will continue with the Flexible Funding approach.
- outcomes so far have been limited to a local authority level. These primarily involve initiating joint grants groups, organisational restructuring and the identification of working practice change and proposals for other change ‘vehicles’. However, it is important to note that, delivery of the Flexible Funding programme has only been undertaken for a short period of time.