Sharing good practice among municipal authorities and public sector workers in southern Finland

The so-called “Paketti” project has focussed on getting public sector workers to compare notes on how public services are delivered and could be improved in the Päijät-Häme region of Finland.

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Bringing people together to improve public services between municipalities. Bringing people together to improve public services between municipalities.

Finland is one of the most decentralised countries in the European Union with many essential public services, from healthcare and social services to education, being run at a local level. But falling levels of tax income as a result of the global economic downturn has led one region of Finland to identify possible efficiencies of scale and co-operation and to restructure the way that services are delivered among the twelve municipalities that make up the Päijät-Häme region.

By finding common solutions for the region, the hope is that productivity will increase and management savings will be achieved. This has been done by establishing uniform indicators for the region which allow comparisons to be made between the region’s various municipalities.

Project director Jaana Simola said that the experience of assembling representatives of all twelve municipalities together along with NGOs, the third sector and the private sector had been extremely positive. “Getting people together in the same place they found that they had the same kind of problems that they had to deal with,” she said. “The project helped them to find common solutions to the way that services are delivered. I think that the most important thing is that people came together and talked to each other.”

Developing common strategies and solutions

An example of increased co-operation between the municipalities in the region has been the roll-out of a common library card which allows library users to use libraries throughout the region using just one card and one centralised computer system.  The new system allows readers to search for, reserve, borrow or return materials wherever they want and regardless of where they live.

The region’s water supply is also set to become more efficient with plans underway to establish a single public company to provide the region’s 200 000 citizens with a water supply.

One of the biggest challenges facing the region is its ageing population. In fact, Päijät-Häme is the fastest ageing region of Finland. With the number of people of working age falling each year, municipalities in the region have had to face the challenge of caring for an increasing number of aged citizens with a decreasing number of healthcare staff.  The “Paketti” project has helped to develop a common social- and healthcare system for the region so that residents will have equal access to high-quality services regardless of where they live.

Total and EU funding

The “Paketti” project had a total budget of EUR 2 700 000, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 1 800 000 through the 'Southern Finland' Operational Programme in the programming period 2007-2013.

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