Christie Commission - 10th Anniversary

To illustrate some positive examples of the Christie recommendations in action at a local level, we have framed the examples under each of the four ‘Pillars’ which Christie identified should inform future working. Many of the examples illustrate several of the ‘pillars’ simultaneously.

Select from the pillars below, to view some of the case studies we have created, alongside some thought pieces from a selection of our Spokespersons.

  • In my work as Children and Young People Spokesperson the four ‘pillars’ of Christie are at the heart of the many different areas of policy, impacting on the lives of children, young people and their families, that we seek to progress.

    We are all committed to participation; the involvement of children and young people in the design and delivery of services is key. Consultation and engagement with young people is, for example, at the core of our work in children and young peoples mental health and wellbeing and the design of new and enhanced community mental health services to support them. As COSLA, we are regularly engaging with children and young people through a wide range of organisations such as Young Scot, Youthlink Scotland and the Scottish Youth Parliament. We have more to do as we work to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into law and ensure we reach those children and young people who may not traditionally engage.

    The independent Care Review challenged us all to listen to the often-harrowing stories told by children and young people of their experience of the care system.  One of the things we heard from them was that they often found that they had to tell their story repeatedly .The Promise challenges us to act and that is what we must do; much of what it tells us is embedded in Christie, particularly the need to make sure that we work more closely in partnership to integrate service provision. We are continually working to ensure that we better integrate services so that young people have a better experience of the care system but  this is also reflected across other areas of our policy work as we strive to work more effectively in partnership across sectors, locally and nationally for the benefit of our communities.

    On prevention, councils have led the way in investing in services that prevent negative outcomes. From innovative family support services to the investment  in and development of Early Learning and Childcare and the move to 1140 hours there is constant recognition of the importance intervening early and preventing problems for children and young people  before they require specialist support and help. We are clear that to do more of this councils need to be properly resourced and be allowed the flexibility and autonomy to identify their priorities locally. The pandemic has shone a light on the inequalities in our communities and councils have worked hard to address these when often resources have been driven from the centre.

    It is striking that 10 years on Christie can be seen as a blueprint of how we deal with the challenges of the pandemic. All of the pillars are now even more relevant as we deal with the challenges our children, young people, families and communities face. This includes the impact on mental health and well-being and the disruption to learning over the last 15 months. The delivery of Christie: empowerment, closer partnership, prevention and sharing services really will be the central pillars not only of education recovery but for the overall recovery of our communities.

  • Scottish Local Government is at the forefront of empowering of our communities by transforming how people participate and engage in local decisions. Through its work to enhance community wellbeing, local government support communities to design services which meet their needs and allocate resources to services which matter most to them.

    In working towards duties set out in the Community Empowerment Act, dedicated services to support community asset transfers, participation and to build capacity across communities is ensuring people can engage in local decisions as seen through the planning of local neighbourhood services and development of community plans. This is very much the case in relation to local government’s 1% participatory budgeting commitment which will see at least £100 million of local government budgets decided on by communities each year.

    The work of local government through Community Justice Partnerships and in Community Safety Partnerships are ways in which closer joint working between and across local government aims to improve outcomes for people and services.

    Developing new ways of working to reduce overall imprisonment rates, improve long term rehabilitation and ensure a greater integration of local services within community payback schemes are all ways we are working towards achieving better outcomes for offenders and communities.    The implementation of the national antisocial behaviour strategy ‘Promoting Positive Outcomes’ has also helped reduce in the number of ASB incidents across the country via early intervention and preventative approaches.

    The Christie Pillars underpin local government’s approach to preventing and responding to homelessness in Scotland.

    At a national level, the Ending Homelessness Together Plan was informed by lived and frontline experience, and actions within it centre around prevention and achieving the best possible outcomes for people experiencing, or who may experience, homelessness. Actions are focused on whole system working with health, social care and wider services that support people. Local strategies and plans are similarly focused on prevention, the provision of early support, and joint working across services and sectors.

    Local Government’s formal employability partnership with the Scottish Government is also driving the strengthening of local employability services using a prevention agenda to combat poverty in all its forms and ensuring that households are more likely to have the resources they require to meet their needs.  These services are increasingly people-centred and placed based, and align with justice, health, housing and advice to ensure that that ‘No One Left Behind’.

    Local government works effectively and efficiently with other sectors to streamline services, focus resources and reduce duplication. 

    During the consultation and implementation of Appropriate Adult services becoming a statutory responsibility, people have been at the heart of both the design and delivery with human rights at the core. To improve outcomes for vulnerable people in the criminal justice system, providers of Appropriate Adult services, partners and wider stakeholders from local authorities, people with lived experience, third sector partners and a multitude of public service agencies and bodies are working collaboratively and in close partnership.

    Community planning and capital investments made in response local need have also resulted in better informed design and use of community hubs and the development of multi-agency support networks in response to the pandemic. Innovative cross sector working between the arts, culture, education services and locality planning to address a range of factors including loneliness and isolation, food poverty, health and wellbeing and employability are just some examples of how local government works in partnership with other sectors.

    Tackling inequalities, gender inequity and associated outcomes – including violence against women and children 

    Violence Against Women local area multi agency Partnerships evidence annually the contribution they are making to the prevention and eradication of violence against women and girls through the Equally Safe Quality and Standards Performance Framework, supporting the public reform agenda through the 4 Christie Pillars, Prevention, Partnership, People and Performance.

  • As we mark the 10th anniversary of the Christie Commission, it is clear that the ambitions it set out are as an important today as they were when the report was written.  In my role as COSLA’s health and social care spokesperson, I have seen many examples of Councils and Health and Social Care Partnerships working with communities and across the traditional dividing lines that are regularly associated with our public sector to improve services and to make them accessible to all who need to use them.  The response to the pandemic has also shown what can be achieved when we place the Christie Commission at the heart of our work.  However, we must also accept that there is widespread agreement that Christie has not been delivered in full and that we need to go further.

    We can do this by ensuring that the principles Christie evoked are placed at the centre of how we approach recovery in the health and social care sector following the strain that has been placed on it by COVID-19.  We have an opportunity to empower communities across Scotland to be involved in the design and delivery of services to an extent that we have not reached to this point, as well as to speed up the integration of health and social care. Nowhere is embracing Christie’s findings more vital than when considering the reform of social care in Scotland, which is now being looked at following the publication of Derek Feeley’s Review of adult social care and the subsequent announcement from the Scottish Government of their intention to form a National Care Service.

    The approach that the Feeley review took was in keeping with Christie, placing conversations with people at the centre of its development and ensuring that prevention was a key theme throughout.  This is to be welcomed.  Indeed, there is much in the report that Local Government have been calling for over a long period of time – including increased funding for social care, additional support for unpaid carers and a re-consideration of eligibility criteria for support.  COSLA is working closely with the Scottish Government and partners across these areas as we want to see change happen now, not years down the line, and we are taking the steps necessary to make that happen.

    However, we must ensure that reform reflects the lessons that Christie laid out for us.  That it empowers people across Scotland, embraces a whole system approach and avoids being “top-down and unresponsive to the individuals and communities”.  Local Government is key to this, providing the democratic link through which people can directly influence and shape service delivery at as local a level as possible. Local Government must be at the heart of reform as must the importance of place.  If it is not, this would be detrimental to the local delivery of social care.  It would also impact on social care’s integration with other key community services.  People who access social care support also access other Local Government services such as housing, education, children and families social work, welfare advice and employment support.  It is vital that these links are preserved.  As we await a Scottish Government consultation on reform, it is important that we give due consideration to the Christie Commission and re-emphasise the relevance of its findings to the future of social care in Scotland.

  • In the decade since the Christie Commission was published, the policy landscape of Scotland has changed beyond recognition. Many of these changes were planned for, and inspired directly by the principles of Christie, but in many other examples the changes of the last decade have been in response to other factors.

    COSLA’s Environment and Economy Board, which I chair, has set itself a goal of supporting ‘a just transition to net zero by no later than 2045’.  This goal embodies fully the ‘pillars’ of partnership working, prevention of negative outcomes, reducing duplication and empowering individuals and communities identified by Christie. The Board is now considering all the policies areas in its remit through the lens of ‘net-zero’, weaving prevention of and adaptation to climate change into all relevant policies.

    If we put Christie to one side for a moment, climate change is the greatest challenge we face now and in the future. The implications of the transition to a carbon neutral economy by no later than 2045 alone are profound and cannot be underestimated, but the real challenge is to do so in a way which is fair and places the burden of climate change adaptation and mitigation on the shoulders of those with the power and resources to deliver change.

    Every sector of society will have to respond, especially the economy. Our economy has been through transition before and, for much of Scotland, the experience of deindustrialisation was not positive. Outcomes were challenging, communities were disempowered and lessons from the past must be learned. Success will hinge on key economic transitions and Local Government will have a critical role to input into how these transitions occur.

    We cannot say what a low carbon economy of the future will look like, but we can predict several of its characteristics and the impacts that they will have on our communities and individuals. As the single largest carbon emitter, transport will, by current estimates, require a 98% reduction in emissions. This will need a strong shift towards more sustainable transport modes wherever possible, such as active travel and public transport. How we heat our homes and buildings will also need major transitions. With fuel poverty and dependency on the car for access to jobs and services already issues facing many communities, the need to make the transition a socially fair and sustainable one is all the more pressing.

    The adoption of place-based models of working has allowed for more holistic approaches to interwoven policies encouraging whole system approaches and increasing efficiencies. 20 minute neighbourhoods are delivering this ambition by reducing duplication of services and identifying gaps in their delivery within the localities our communities call home, all while reducing carbon by encouraging active travel.

    None of this can be achieved in isolation. COSLA has a strong working relationship across Local Government, a good partnership with the Scottish Government, we are a key contributor and influencer in the SSN (Sustainable Scotland Network), which brings together the whole of the public sector on climate change, and we have successfully linked with the Scottish Parliament, the Citizen’s Assembly on Climate Change, and the Just Transition Commission, to name but a few.

    It has been ten years since the Christie Commission was published, and we have only 24 years to achieve a just transition to a net zero carbon economy. The challenge is huge, the cost of failure unthinkable, and there will be many hard decisions to take on the way, but with the pillars of Christie’s work to guide our journey to net zero, we can prevent the worst impacts of climate change for our communities for generations to come.

  • At the heart of Christie is empowerment and improved use of the resources that we have. Our most valuable and at times unseen resource is the people that we employ.  Empowering each individual in whatever they do to work more effectively with our communities is key.  Achieving this doesn’t lie in “what we do” but “how we do” it.  As such we have and continue to work nationally to develop a greater understanding of how we can share resources across our partnerships.  This is so that we can better invest in the training and development of our people so that they in turn can better respond to and work with individuals and communities by understanding and meet their needs.

    In the past 10 years Scottish Local Government has focused on embedding the principles of Fair Work across all that we do.  By improving our terms and conditions, encouraging our workforce to look after and improve their mental health and wellbeing, and by providing access to financial and other services, we create a resilient and strong workforce.  We have also focused on equipping our workforce with the right tools, skills and knowledge.  Improved use of technology has enabled more flexible ways of working, this in turn has led to the redesigning of job roles and therefore encouraged greater diversity in the workforce.  By doing this work we are not only meeting the needs of our communities, but we are adapting to the changing lifestyles, expectations and needs of our current workforce, as well as thinking towards our future one.

    As we continue to work closely on national training programmes such as being trauma informed or carbon literate, we continue to not only encourage partnership working, but also embed a preventative and innovative mindset across all parts of the workforce.  Having informed, diverse and flexible employees is key to achieving the aims of Christie.  However, we must ensure that we have greater functional and fiscal empowerment of our workforce as only this will encourage more focused use of resources and avoid duplication.  Empowerment of all parts of the system and everyone involved is essential in ensuring that we are able to engage, involve and empower decision making with and by our communities.  The COVID 19 pandemic has proven that because of an investment in looking at “how we do” and not “what we do” we can change the ways in which we work rapidly and that trust leads to positive outcomes.  The core principle of a whole system approach remains key and if all parts of the system are engaged then we can continue to workforce planning, that is responsive to both national and local needs by better using the resources we have.