We resisted simply reproducing our (hard copy) newsletter on the website for some time, on the grounds that this is a different medium with a different purpose - but we changed our mind! So here it is. The layout is different - columns are a real pain on a computer monitor - but the text is essentially the same. If you don't have Internet access at work and you would like to receive a (postal) copy of future editions let us know.

Targeting Best Value: one day course - 22 February 2000 Central London

Our next one day course on best value is a linear descendent of the successful one day seminars we ran in the spring and autumn of 1999. The course is for managers, policy staff, trainers and supervisors in public, voluntary and independent agencies. It will address three major questions.
What does "best value" mean and how will it affect us?
How can best value targets for review be identified?
How can existing targets be modified by negotiation?
See the web page about the seminar to find out more.

Keith Fletcher writes about staff care:-

There is no doubt that social services agencies are facing serious staffing problems, especially in certain work areas. There is a shortage of qualified and experienced people anyway, exacerbated by a haemorrhage out of the profession, from the public sector in particular. It isn't helped by snide comments about the conservatism of the public sector from Number 10. The staff who remain come under growing pressure and bear the brunt of public (and Government) approbation when things go wrong. As the recent Community Care campaign has shown they feel, with good reason, vulnerable to physical attack too.
All this has a serious effect on quality in a service which is almost entirely dependent on its front line staff for the value of its product. One thing is abundantly clear. Best value service reviews which fail to put the staff who deliver the service at the centre of their considerations will not be worth the paper they are written on.

Our experience is that many agencies are acutely aware of this and are much exercised to tackle it. A staff counselling agency with which SSSP is closely associated won a contract to provide staff support to one local authority social services department earlier this year and they are already in conversation with two others. We helped them design a management information system to provide employers with useful information without breaching confidentiality.

Staff counselling is a valuable tool of staff support but it should be part of a staff care and retention strategy. Hitherto we have tended to regard it as a component of specific service reviews but it is now such a major issue, affecting many services, that some authorities are reviewing their current staffing policy as a whole. Such undertakings are often best conducted by an outside agency as a way of avoiding the constraint of the assumptions which become part of every organisation.

If you are thinking alone these lines SSSP can help. We have combined our experience of service review with the experience of staff pressures of IMPACT counselling service to design a review model which addresses these basic questions.

Interested? Send for some more information about the service we can provide. Use the response form at the back if you like or let us have a short profile of your situation to respond to more specifically.


This latest buzzword in the Government's lexicon has a lot going for it this time. It is coming up fast on the rails as the next major policy initiative after BEST VALUE.

What’s new?

Is this just the latest factotum word for all those sound-bites that echo down the years: working together, joined up government, governance, JCCs, inter-agency collaboration and many others? Several things give this a different feel from previous government initiatives on this theme.

This time the concept includes the agencies, the professionals, clients/patients and the public. Earlier variations have focussed on either partnership with clients or partnership between professionals and their agencies and the public has not appeared at all.

It is linked with best value one the one hand and social inclusion on the other. It may make everything more complex but, if it comes off, it represents some real “joined up government”.

The government is making an earnest attempt to remove some of the bureaucratic obstacles to collaborative working by enabling legislation.

We think this promises considerable potential for positive change. Our own attention is on partnership child protection, services for elderly people and social inclusion in particular. If you are planning something on any of these three fronts check of the appropriate box on the response form and we will send you some information about how we might be of help.

Best Value

Are you planning a seminar, conference or in-house courses on best value and looking for some well informed and experienced external input?

Are you looking for external support to conduct a best value review; or are you conducting one internally at the moment and running into occasional patches of wet sand?

Let’s see if we can help: ask us for more information.

Social Inclusion

Social inclusion, and exclusion, have been on the agenda since the speech by Peter Mandelson which signalled the establishment of the  Social Exclusion Unit. A clear programme has been slow to emerge however: a noble concept has been difficult to translate to practice.

The creation of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly has given the idea fresh impetus. Keith Fletcher was recently involved in a fruitful discussion about how to take social inclusion forward in Wales with Jane Hutt, the Health & Social Services Secretary for the National Assembly for Wales, Dr. Dave Adamson from the University of Glamorgan and John Bader, the Official responsible for implementing social inclusion policy for the Assembly.

If you want to explore the rôle your agency might play in enhancing social inclusion (not necessarily in Wales)  give us a call or return the response form. We have a number of models for action, one of which, suitably tailored to your needs, may be of use to you.

Wine Draw

The winner of the autumn Update wine draw is Glenys Olalla from Rochdale. Congratulations Glen and thank you, and everyone who responded. We discussed the possibility of doing something different this time. But recipients sometimes write and say how much unexpected pleasure it gave them to receive the bottles - and frankly we get a kick out of doing it. So it stays - for this quarter at least.

© SSSP Ltd., September 2003