Everyone's Essex: our plan for levelling up the county 2021 to 2025

Our plan for Essex sets out out our 20 commitments to improve the lives of the people of Essex.

How we will deliver

This is a high-level plan. It sets out what we are focused on and the approaches will we take. It doesn’t set out in detail how we will achieve these outcomes.

The task of delivery, in the main, requires whole organisation effort and co-ordination. We are strengthening our organisation-wide coordination mechanisms, to enhance collaboration and delivery on our four strategic aims, including on levelling up and on climate action. But the principle of working in this way goes across all of the outcomes we are seeking.

And we also recognise that we need to think imaginatively about how to achieve our outcomes. That is why we are placing a heavier emphasis on the arts, not only because we believe that a thriving cultural sector is part of a strong economy, but also because we believe the arts can help us achieve outcomes in many areas, from employment to social care. And successful delivery is not just about what we do as an organisation, it is also about how we enable others to do things for themselves. We see working with communities to enable them to create the thriving places and networks that nurture wellbeing as a key part of our role.

So when we talk about delivery, it is not just about the practicalities of plans and processes, but also about how we work together as an organisation and as a system with our partners across Essex and with our communities. We recognise that there are some tough decisions ahead, and we will need to prioritise the things that give us the best chance of improving people’s lives.

As we implement this new plan, we will therefore be guided by a number of operating principles for how we will work internally, with partners and with communities.

We are exploratory not defensive

We have big ambitions that will require us to think differently about the way we work.

To tackle these big issues in new ways, we must be agile, able to work at pace and have the flexibility to adapt to changes. This will be underpinned by strong accountability at all levels.

We are open-minded and diverse

We don’t have all the answers when it comes to tackling complex, open-ended, ‘wicked’ issues or we would have solved them already. To address them we need to be innovative and capable of finding creative solutions to achieving better outcomes within our budget.

We must remain reflective and be open to continuous learning and development. And that means we must build time into our joint working to have the capacity to do the new thinking that is called for.

We will reflect the diversity of the county with its mix of rural, urban and coastal locations, and recognise the needs of the different communities we represent.

We are insight and evidence led

We have access to rich insight from data, from research and from the expertise of our staff. Using this insight effectively will enable us to understand people’s lives better, to target resources effectively and to choose approaches that are most likely to deliver successful outcomes.

We work in a whole organisation / whole system way with partners

Tackling our ‘wicked’ issues and delivering on our ambitions will only happen when we work collectively as a whole organisation and whole system to mobilise our collective skills, experience and resources, along with those of our partners.

We must strive to ensure that every part of the organisation can contribute to the achievement of our outcomes and we must build effective relationships with our partners to energise the system.

We manage our resources and prioritise effectively

That means both financial resources and our people.

We want to operate efficiently so that we have the headroom to invest in the priorities set out in this plan, and through our People Plan we are working hard with our employees to ensure that we have the capability to meet the demands ahead.

We are very mindful that we are only able to be ambitious in this plan because of the strong financial foundations we have laid over many years.

We are influential

Some of the levers and the funds to achieve levelling up will lie at national level or with our partners.

This means that we need to be influencing government policies across a range of relevant issues, and in ensuring that Essex gets its fair share of investment.

It also means continuing to press the case for more devolved powers for Essex, so that we can control the levers we need, to effect change for our residents.

We empower communities, families and individuals

Improving life chances for communities, families and individuals cannot be done to them, it needs to be done with them. It is about giving people the environment, support and opportunities in which they can flourish.

This means we need to make the most of our assets in our approach to levelling up, supporting community infrastructure, and helping communities, families and individuals to take advantage of their strengths.

We need to support high aspiration and expectation, and challenge any part of our system that suggests ‘good enough’ is good enough.

We will build on the community spirit and social capital developed during the pandemic, and will explore new models of volunteering and social action for the future.