By Lucy Phillips
29 March 2011
The first 16 Community Budget pilots will be up and running
by the end of this week, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said today.
Speaking at a conference on place-based budgeting in London,
Pickles said 16 areas, covering 28 councils, would be pooling local and
national funding pots by April 1.
It follows an announcement in the October Comprehensive
Spending Review that the pilots would begin in April this year. Place-based
budgeting had been piloted by the previous Labour government under the Total
Today Pickles said: ‘Until now money from the centre has
always come with strict caveats. At Whitehall we are going to step back and let
local councils and agencies get re-animated about local problems. With
Community Budgets we want to get as close as possible to the idea that councils
and local areas should get a single pot of local funding from government to
spend as they see fit.
‘My message to local areas is: don’t be afraid to think big
- to be as bold and as innovative as you can. This is the future for public
services. If we can get 16 areas up and running in less than six months think
what we can achieve moving forward.’
The 16 pilot areas are: Birmingham; Blackburn with Darwen; Blackpool; Bradford;
Essex; Greater Manchester (a group of ten councils); Hull; Kent; Leicestershire; Lincolnshire; London Borough of Barnet; London
Borough of Croydon; London
Borough of Islington; London
Borough of Lewisham; the London
Boroughs of Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, the Royal Borough of
Kensington and Chelsea and Wandsworth; and Swindon.
Community Budgets will be rolled out to all areas by 2013.
Further details will be included in the second phase of the Local Government Resources
review, to be launched shortly.
‘For too long we’ve handed out pocket money to local
agencies and told them how to spend like an overbearing parent. It’s time to
let local areas grow up and do things their way,’ added Pickles.
He said pooled budgets would be crucial to tackling social
problems by bringing together local agencies.