As part of their localism drive, the
government is keen to introduce whole-place Community Budgets. These are very similar to the Total Place
initiatives piloted by the Labour Government, and four whole-place pilot
schemes were announced in December 2011:
Greater Manchester; Essex; West London and Cheshire West &
These cover a much wider range
of policy issues and services than earlier schemes and the aim, in the long term, is to create a
single local funding pot to bring together different national and local funding
budgets. These agencies would then work
together as one co-ordinated organisation, with the local community, to deliver
services. This should in effect drive
down costs and improve performance and local accountability.
The key question in all of this is how will
this succeed, where other schemes have failed? Should we now be looking at real “people investment” for long term
future results? Perhaps creating a 10,
15 or 20 year plan for investment in people to improve communities in the same
way, or in tandem, as we deal with regeneration of homes and buildings? This would allow early and prolonged
intervention which survives local and national elections.
One driver, which could help to promote
Community Budgets, is the emergence of “Community Champions”. This will need to be somebody from the local
community with the profile, urgency, drive and commitment to effect
change. This could, for example, be a
community leader, local celebrity or elected politician. This could also be a
“group” initiative with local businesses or charities joining with communities
to create momentum.
What also need to be addressed are the
wider issues of how local and national government agencies work together with businesses
and the third sector. The role of the
business and third sectors is crucial to achieving the value necessary to
reduce the deficit, create growth and jobs going forward.
Devising a business model that can be
adapted to local circumstances and requirements, which brings together local
and national government, the third sector and business would seem to be a
prerequisite to success.
In our view, building a model out of our
housing estates, which brings education, health and social care together in one
local service, is the way forward. We
believe linking housing, education, health and social care together with an
agreed “champion” and the right business model will provide the platform for
success, growth and new jobs. This will
also provide a pathway to sustainable social inclusion and return pride and
opportunity to our communities.