Corporate Governance

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.

What is a Partnership?

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:

  • are independent bodies
  • agree to co-operate to achieve a common goal(s)
  • create new organisational structures or processes to achieve these goal(s) separate from their own organisations
  • plan and implement a jointly agreed programme of activities, often with joint staff or resources
  • share relevant information
  • pool risks, budgets and rewards.

Why enter into Partnerships?

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:

  • Government requires them (e.g. crime and disorder partnerships)
  • external funders require them in order to deliver funding streams
  • communities identify priorities for the improvement of well-being and no one organisation on its own has responsibility for delivery
  • the council does not possess the capacity, the knowledge or expertise on its own to deliver new services or service improvements
  • better value for money would be derived from delivering services in collaboration with others.

The key elements of good governance of partnerships are:

  • a strong focus on the purpose of the partnership, i.e. on outcomes for the local people as set out in the Slough Wellbeing Strategy
  • partners, councillors and officers working together to achieve a common purpose with clearly defined functions and roles
  • high standards of conduct and behaviour
  • informed and transparent decision-making which is subject to effective scrutiny and risk management
  • developing the capacity of partnerships to become more effective over time
  • engagement with local people and other stakeholders to ensure robust public accountability.

A copy of the Slough Wellbeing Strategy can be accessed here.

Partnership Governance toolkit

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:

  • considering whether it should join or form a new partnership
  • monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of an existing partnership
  • deciding whether to leave and / or wind up an existing partnership.

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.

The council’s Partnership Governance toolkit can be accessed here.

Partnership register

The council also publishes a register of the key partnerships it is involved in, which can be found here.

Partnership Governance Annual Report 2012/13

This report gives an overview of what the council’s key strategic partnerships achieved during the last financial year.