Ignoring the need for prevention can store up big problems for the future, whether the issue is health or criminal justice, homelessness or poor performance at school. But faced with austerity, the risk is that local services concentrate on making cuts now and think about the long-term later.
At the same time, barriers exist to taking such a preventative approach. Many of those working in public services lack the sense of empowerment to address root causes rather than doing sufficient for the short-term. This problem is compounded by organisational silos – and in the current context – shrinking budgets and underinvestment in analysis to discern risk and probabilities.
This paper presents the findings of two years’ work with a range of local agencies and social enterprises in the UK and overseas. It draws on insights from workshops, interviews with practitioners, focus groups with users of services, literature reviews, and business case analysis of savings and outcomes for public services.