Devolution Deals Demand Partnership and Participation!


Our Non Exec Director Gordon Perry will be speaking at the Community Housing Cymru (CHC) conference on Thursday 16 November in Cardiff. In preparation for his session he prepared these thoughts.

When I was invited to speak at the CHC Annual Conference on Housing – Integration, Devolution and Regeneration, I thought that it’s a real privilege for an Englishman to be invited to Cardiff to speak about housing.

Indeed, I believe that Wales today is much more enlightened about social housing issues than England is. I will tell you why as part of my session at the conference!

What are the lessons from the English experience of City Deals and more recently Combined Authority Deals such as Greater Manchester’s? It’s become clear to me that successful deals and the subsequent delivery of them are fundamentally dependent upon sound partnerships, and committed participation in them.

Put simply – get on board and stay on board no matter how choppy the waters become. Many ask why the Greater Manchester Deal seems to be making greater progress than most. It’s simple; partnership working in housing wasn’t new in Greater Manchester and the housing sector got behind a deal which they see more as an opportunity than a threat.

The Greater Manchester deal is one of the few that has a strong housing led regeneration focus. The housing offer is based on the strong foundations with housing groups all working together for a common purpose.

So what if you don’t have those foundations of partnership working in place? Well based on my experience of successful partnerships, I have distilled the lessons into these key points:

  • We all need to question our ongoing commitment to the partnership
  • The team must clarify and constantly refine the purpose of the partnership deal. It must be absolutely clear to all.
  • You must build the governance structure of the partnership at the start; if you don’t it will get in the way of the purpose itself.
  • Start by building a common vision reflecting shared objectives.
  • Plan a clear programme clarifying partner’s contributions and resource commitments – tie them into the deal!
  • Deal with the partners who are merely passengers – they will hold you back.
  • Gain support and maintain the participation of the communities and stakeholders involved.
  • Communicate, communicate and communicate again with everyone involved – Communication must be open, transparent, regular and relevant – avoiding spinning away to the land of the unbelievable!

Oh and finally – don’t forget the ‘relationship management’ with the people you are doing the deal for – don’t let it slip away – remember who holds the power and respect it!