Northern Ireland news

More collaboration needed to tackle poverty and health inequality, report finds

In its report Social Change Initiative said greater transparency is necessary to create a more informed public and promote government accountability. Picture by Steven McCaffery/PA Wire  
Michael McHugh, PA

Tackling persistent poverty and health inequality in Northern Ireland requires more collaboration, a report has said.

Greater transparency is necessary to create a more informed public and promote government accountability, the Social Change Initiative urged.

More use of citizens' assemblies in the long-term and extended budget periods were among recommendations from the Belfast-based international charity.

Powersharing has returned and ministers are attempting to transform public services.

The report's authors wrote: "The complexities of what we are experiencing in Northern Ireland are not unique and many governments across the world have sought new ways of doing business that will improve outcomes.

"Efforts to bring about transformation in public services have mostly focused on the adoption of outcomes-based working.

"This approach sets out a longer-term strategic direction - beyond a single political mandate - and directs attention and resources towards those services shown to be most effective in improving people's lives."

The report suggested doing this well would require a more collaborative approach, with the public from all areas being involved in planning services.

The Shifting Gear NI report added: "It also promotes transparency, enabling citizens to be better informed and more able to hold government to account."

The document suggested more flexible multi-year budgets, pooling funds around outcomes and more cross-sector funding partnerships.

It reflected on lessons learned from international organisation Atlantic Philanthropies' partnership with the Stormont Executive in improving services for children, families and people affected by dementia.

Advisers Deloitte helped draw up the report.

The document suggested refreshing the ministerial and civil service codes, sharing skills from neighbouring jurisdictions with the civil service and promoting innovation in policy making.

Martin O'Brien, director of the Social Change Initiative, said: "If we are to improve outcomes for the people who live here, tackle disadvantage and make public services sustainable into the future, we need to find better ways to plan and deliver them.

"Governments across the world have sought new ways of doing business that will improve outcomes and this report aims to support those efforts."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news