Number 11: Effective Partnership Working
Just do it! Moreover, by partnership, I do not mean, in DWP speak, a contractual arrangement with a provider or supplier. I am talking about real working in partnership across all sectors, particularly the Voluntary and Community Sector, that builds up mutual respect and support.
I could write a small book, well pamphlet, on partnership, how to do it (and not), the benefits (and the costs) and the goodwill that flows from just getting out into the local community (and, by extension, labour market).
If you do partnership work right (and I think I was getting there by the end) then the sum of the parts becomes greater than the whole. Partners may still agree to disagree, on occasion, but that is often an improvement on their not agreeing to be in the same room together.
Again, for DWP to go back to where it was before May 2010, it requires a culture change and recognition of the value of officers like me. We had over decades built up credit and goodwill for DWP in Birmingham and Solihull through partnership work. However, after May 2010, one got the impression that we were a bit of a nuisance, even perhaps an embarrassment. We had got into the habit of seeing the bigger picture and (off the record) we had been involved, some of us at least, in guerrilla warfare with the usual suspects. You will not be surprised at our reaction when the list of Work Programme providers was announced.
It will not be easy for DWP to regain trust through partnership work, but as a colleague (who defected to Pertemps) once said, “If it was easy then it wouldn’t be us doing it!” Rather sums up the work of most of the real public sector, in my opinion.