Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Manchester chosen as pilot for community budget scheme

Greater Manchester has been chosen as one of four areas in the country to pilot a community budget scheme.

Community Budgets pool various sources of central government funding into a single pot for local spending. Previous pilots concentrated on a single issue – problem families – but the new ones comprise four large-scale ‘whole place’ initiatives covering all public services and ten smaller ‘neighbourhood level’ plans.

Spending this pooled money in a way that better reflects local priorities can save as much as 20 per cent, the Department for Communities and Local Government said.

The pilot represents a unique opportunity for Greater Manchester and the Government to work together to reform public services, ensuring the best value for money for public spending.

The Greater Manchester pilot will focus on tackling dependency on public services and supporting economic growth.

Communities Secretary,Eric Pickles, said the pilots would end ‘silo control’, where public service investment is co-ordinated at a Whitehall level. He said this was creating unequal access to inefficient and unnecessarily expensive services. ‘We need a gear change that makes “silo control” obsolete and starts a local service revolution that puts people at the heart of spending decisions and saves money,’ he said.

Lord Peter Smith, chair of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, said: "Greater Manchester's strong track record of cross party co-operation and private sector leadership means that we are ideally placed to demonstrate the benefits of a Whole Place budget approach.

 "It is forecast that 56,000 private sector jobs will be created here in the next four years which will help support a rebalancing of the national economy so that when there is growth it will be in Greater Manchester and the North West, not just in London and the South East. "But unless we can tackle worklessness, low skills and dependency on central and local government we will not be able to achieve the region's full potential. We want Community Budgets to form a central plank of our Greater Manchester Strategy to achieve prosperity for all."

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