Early Help review

Peopletoo carried out a review and diagnostic evaluation of Bristol City Council's targeted Early Help and commissioned services. The scope of the review was to assess the current operating model and offer an independent assessment of its effectiveness and value for money, while also considering further opportunities to provide a more joined up and cost effective approach. This case study forms part of our productivity experts resource.

Efficiency and income generation

The challenge

The intention of the work was to identify where there may be duplication due to a lack of join up in commissioned services or opportunities for remodeling including opportunities for wider integration with other services. The diagnostic evaluation was based on an analysis of performance data across Early Help including the volume of referrals and referral sources and the levels of step up and step down between Early Help and social care, together with the budget for Early Help. In addition, Peopletoo were asked to consider the impact on services should funding be withdrawn from the Troubled Families Programme and what the resulting commissioning implications for the city and its partners would be.

The solution

The report offered a number of recommendations which included a reduction in the management of the service and redesigning the service around an integrated locality model. The benefit of implementing these recommendations is that while achieving better value for money it would have the least impact on the service offer because it is evidence based around realigning services to need.

The report identified opportunities to take a more integrated approach to commissioning across the council by reducing duplication in commissioned pieces of work. Public health is now leading on an analysis of the council’s commissioning for all children to identify overlaps and opportunities with a view to taking this forward.

The impact

The report recommendations offer the potential to retain some targeted services if the Troubled Families grant is removed and also identifies a risk to high cost placements in this event. It has enabled Bristol City Council to have a blueprint to identify risk and manage change. Through restructuring the service the report identifies potential savings of up to £2,857,421.

How is the new approach being sustained?

The report findings are being held back for this financial year while Bristol City Council put sustainability measures in place around high cost elements and before it makes structural changes pending grant removal.

Lessons learned

  • The importance of pre-planning for eventualities.
  • How to maintain sustainability of mainstream services by placing service delivery at key gateway points to ensure that the service being provided to families remains consistent with their need.
  • Focusing on the delivery of services to families and aligning the structure to that.


Jacqui Jensen

Grace Abel