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Homes England, the government’s housing delivery agency, and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) are investing just over £200,000 in Public Practice, the social enterprise with a mission to build the public sector’s capacity to improve places, to support the not-for-profit’s expansion across the country.

Public Practice plays a key role in supporting public sector authorities in London, the South East and the East of England to identify gaps in the capacity of planning and place-shaping teams.

The organisation then matches skilled candidates to year-long placements with the authority, which is supported by learning, development and knowledge sharing activity.

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Public Practice will use the investment to expand its programme to other parts of the country.

Homes England’s partnership with Public Practice is part of the work of its Local Government Capacity Centre, which is designed to increase local government capacity and skills to make better places and homes.

It tackles head on the difficulty local authorities face in attracting and retaining built environment professionals and helps overcome this significant barrier to delivering high quality and sustainable places.

Peter Freeman, Chair of Homes England, says:

“Authorities throughout England have told us that skills and expertise shortages are some of the biggest barriers they face to make homes and communities happen.

Public Practice has a proven model for bringing these vital skills from the private sector to local government.

We set up the Local Government Capacity Centre to support just this kind of solutions-focused work, and I am confident that expanding Public Practice’s unique programme to areas outside of London and the South will make a real difference.”

Public Practice’s expansion will be supported by extensive consultation, liaison, and research with authorities.

This evidence will help shape the direction and approach for how Public Practice expands its unique programme nationally.

As a start, local government officers are invited to respond to Public Practice’s Local Authority Resourcing and Skills survey, which launched this month.

This is designed to build understanding of skills gaps and the impact that a lack of resources has on officers and their teams across England.

The partnership with Public Practice comes as the Local Government Capacity Centre wraps up its 2-week long Winter Learning Programme, a series of knowledge sharing sessions aimed at local government officers.

Pooja Agrawal, Chief Executive, Public Practice, says:

“Since October 2017, Public Practice has placed over 200 talented practitioners into place-shaping roles in over 50 authorities in London, the South-East and the East of England, with the objective of improving the quality, equality and sustainability of places.

This seed funding from Homes England, supported by DLUHC, will enable us to reach new places, work with new authorities and increase our impact throughout England.

Over the last few years, public authorities have demonstrated a huge amount of resilience, but we know that they need support to access the skills, capacity and capabilities to meet their ambitions.

The expansion of Public Practice’s unique programme will enable us to meet demand from authorities across the country that are keen to bring diverse skills, backgrounds and experience in-house.

We believe that we need a diverse and cross disciplinary public sector to lead the way to create high quality and sustainable places for all people.

Over 90% of people we have placed to date have come from outside the public sector, and over 90% of our alumni have continued to work in the public sector.”

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