We invited Councillor Jason Brock, Leader of Reading Borough Council, to speak to us about putting himself forward as Chair of the Integrated Care Partnership, why the system matters to counties and boroughs like Reading and how he sees the VCSE in all its vibrant diversity becoming a partner at the system level and at ‘place’ in Berkshire West, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
We also asked him to tell us about the integrated care strategy agreed upon on the 1st of March, which he sees as the “start of a journey” for a large area of 2 million people – in which people in less affluent areas experience poor health 10-15 years earlier than their better-off neighbours.
Jason Brock has been the Leader of Reading Borough Council since May 2019 and Councillor for Southcote since July 2016. He previously lectured History at Royal Holloway, University of London and was later a senior researcher at the Fabian Society, a Labour-affiliated think tank. He is the youngest and tallest Leader in the history of Reading Borough Council.
The best thing you can do is watch Jason’s introductory remarks in the video on YouTube – a few reflections from me. I was pleased to hear Jason share his commitment to fostering stronger communities and he left me with the idea that the voluntary sector is the part of society that doesn’t walk past the problems we see around us. Jason is keen to explore better prevention through a matched funding approach by councils and the NHS, including in response to an audience question about the Early Years, for which support has been declining. One of the key issues here is how we capture and demonstrate social value and whether this is favoured in tenders and so considered appropriate for bids from charities.
He encouraged VCSE leaders to continue engaging through health and wellbeing boards and emerging place partnership boards, even though we know that VCSE engagement can be quite uneven across counties, e.g. in Oxfordshire there’s a VCSE leader on the partnership board, whereas in Buckinghamshire there is not yet. Jason drew out how local councillors are also present in their wards and communities and work with local community groups. This reminded me of our member survey finding last summer that the VCSE has closer relationships with Councils than with the NHS. Jason hopes to be able to invite everyone to an ICP Assembly later this year to have a really open discussion about how we’re progressing towards an integrated care system.
Thank you to Jason for sharing his thoughts with us and responding to all the questions.
The video of the event is here on YouTube.
Our next meeting is on the 29th of June, we have just Commissioned a study, to try and look at the scale of the size, and indeed, the impact of the VCSE sector across BOB, that’s drawing on a methodology that’s been used in Cornwall, Yorkshire and Cambridge and so we hope to have as our guest speaker at that meeting Professor Tony Chapman, from the University, who’s going to be heavily involved undertaking the research.