The main strength of partnership working is that it brings a range of organisations and agencies, ideas and resources together to make more of an impact - more so than one organisation working alone could achieve on its own.
However, this is also one of the main risks of partnership working, because of the possible confusion about partners’ roles and responsibilities.
A partnership is defined as “an agreed framework for jointly delivering common goals, shared risks and resources, providing identified added value and measurable impact and shared accountability for outcomes, which cannot be obtained in other ways.”
The Audit Commission describes partnerships as joint working arrangements where the partners:
Local partnerships are essential to the delivery of priority outcomes and improvements in the quality of local people’s lives, and it is acknowledged that sound governance is required to ensure these opportunities are realised and potential risks avoided.
Working in partnerships with others can bring significant benefits. They can provide flexibility, innovation and additional financial and human resources to help solve problems. These are powerful incentives for Slough Borough Council to work with others in partnership to different degrees.
Partnership working also brings risks. Working across organisational boundaries can often be challenging and can generate confusion and weakened accountability, transparency and assessment.
Slough Borough Council recognises the strength and value of effective partnerships in contributing to the delivery of its strategic priorities and in improving the well-being of the borough’s communities and it is committed to working in partnership with others whenever it is appropriate.
We believe partnerships are necessary when:
The key elements of good governance of partnerships are:
The council’s Partnership Governance toolkit sets out the ‘rules’ for working in a partnership with others i.e. how partnerships should operate, what partners’ roles and responsibilities are, how problems should be dealt with and how partnership activity should be monitored, reviewed and evaluated so that best use is made of finite resources.
These ‘rules’ are important so everyone involved in the partnership knows where they stand and what is expected of them. It is also important for a partnerships’ accountability – when public funds are being spent in partnership, it is vital that clear lines of accountability and responsibility are set out in a partnership’s agreement.
The council uses this toolkit when:
The council will only join a new partnership if it can resource the investment (of time, assets, knowledge and money) required to effectively do so.