Councils asked to bid for 'whole place' Community Budgets

17 Oct 11
Councils are being asked to bid for Community Budget pilots covering all local services, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles announced today.

By Richard Johnstone | 17 October 2011

Councils are being asked to bid for Community Budget pilots covering all local services, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles announced today.

Eric Pickles

Pickles said the whole area schemes would ‘bring together all funding for local services into one place… a single budget that will get to the heart of what barriers stop you from controlling the purse strings’.

Stressing that ‘nothing is off the table’, Pickles told councils: ‘This is your opportunity to change the future of the way public services are funded. Test your ambitions to the limit, and the old hands in Whitehall won’t realise they’ve lost control until it’s too late. Bid for this and it’ll be the best thing you’ve ever done.’

Under Community Budgets, various sources of funding for local services are pooled into one local pot. Current pilots are working with families with complex problems but the ‘whole place’ versions will cover all public services. These will more closely resemble the Total Place pilots that began under the previous government.

Two test areas will be selected before the end of this year and the selection criteria were published today.

The Community Budgets Prospectus said that the winning areas will have to demonstrate the ‘drive, ambition, capacity and partnership working necessary to deliver robust and credible Community Budget proposals’.

Expressions of interest are to be submitted by November 10, and can come from any local authority wanting to work with their public service partners.

Central government funding will be provided to ‘ensure the involvement of Whitehall departments’. This will enable a joint team, comprising officials from both local service providers and Whitehall, to be pulled together and work in the locality to support the development work.

The government said it will want to ensure that the ‘outcomes and outputs from the pilots could be replicable in other areas’.

The prospectus states: ‘The two whole place pilot areas will be taking forward a “proof of concept” but it is also important that councils and their partners across the country benefit from the pilots’ success and learning. The government wants pilot areas to be able to test their emerging thinking and development work with a small number of other areas who themselves will be keen to learn from what the pilot areas are doing.’

The schemes will have to demonstrate a ‘radical future for local public services in the area and Community Budgets more generally’, the prospectus says, as well as being a catalyst for local public service providers in pilot areas to transform services.

A team of about eight senior Whitehall officials will work full-time with local public services in each area as part of a joint team for the majority of 2012.

By October 2012, each pilot area will have developed an operational plan that will set out the budget and outcomes. Implementation will then begin from December 2012.

Ten authorities will be designated ‘friends of the pilots’, so that they can quickly benefit from the lessons of the whole place budgeting.

The government is also asking for expressions of interest for two ‘neighbourhood-level Community Budget’ pilots from organisations including neighbourhood and parish councils. Applications submitted by local authorities on behalf of local partners will also be considered.

The prospectus states that these pilots will look at which public services can be co-designed with local residents, and which services can and cannot be managed at the neighbourhood level.

Both the whole place Community Budgets and the neighbourhood-level Community Budgets form part of the second phase of the Local Government Resource Review.

This is examining how communities and local people can be given more power and control over local services and budgets, and will be completed by April 2013.


CIPFA logo

PF Jobsite logo

Did you enjoy this article?