'Working together' tsar appointed

Norfolk has a new public services 'tsar' tasked with making sure councils, police and the NHS are working well together.Sue Jewkes, from the Audit Commission, is to oversee the new 'comprehensive area assessment' which will rate whether partnerships are working well together to deliver shared goals such as tackling domestic violence and reducing teenage pregnancies.

Norfolk has a new public services 'tsar' tasked with making sure councils, police and the NHS are working well together.

Sue Jewkes, from the Audit Commission, is to oversee the new 'comprehensive area assessment' which will rate whether partnerships are working well together to deliver shared goals such as tackling domestic violence and reducing teenage pregnancies.

The new system is supposed to replace the current 'star ratings' handed out in the comprehensive performance assessments (CPA).

'The CPA was seen to be too big and not working terribly well,' Mrs Jewkes said. 'It's increasingly not just one organisation which is responsible for delivering an outcome and we need to be looking at things differently.'


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She said the changes would reduce bureaucracy and the number of inspections - although individual public services would still be assessed. But critics dispute promises of it being a 'lighter touch' system, say it could increase red tape and not reduce it, and point out that the recent Baby P inquiry resulted in promises of more detailed inspections by bodies such as Ofsted.

The Conservative Party is also committed to scrapping the system if it wins the next general election.

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Mrs Jewkes said her work would look at the goals set out by umbrella groups such as the Norfolk County Strategic Partnership.

It comes as county councillors are also taking a closer look at the accountability of such partnerships which are responsible for overseeing how more than �50m of public money is spent.

Mrs Jewkes said: 'I'm the person pulling it all together for Norfolk. I am the area lead. It's not a very exciting title but at the end of the day people don't care who is delivering their service, provided they get it and it's right. They just want it to work.

'I'm not just working with the public sector either. I will also be working with everybody who is making a difference for Norfolk, that includes Voluntary Norfolk. I'll be meeting regularly with stakeholders about the contributions they can make. And it's not just local government. It's health and police.

'We will be taking the findings from these and making an assessment and judging them on how that organisation is performing, including looking at their contribution to the wider local partnership.

'It's not going to be a simple tick box. I am more interested in what's being done. We will still report on public-sector organisations. Each organisation will be held to account for its own performance - that will remain.'

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