England & Wales Democracy, devolution and governance

Thoughts on the Community Budget pilots


The Government has today announced the fourteen areas that will pioneer new Community Budgets.

This announcement is good news today for everyone involved.  Congratulations to all the councils who will have the opportunity to develop new approaches that could save money and improve services.  The variety of bids put forward by local government to address key challenges, such as helping people back to work or working with troubled families, show the ambition of councils to innovate.

Now we want to see the government go further in two ways: firstly be extending community budgeting to every council, and secondly by bringing Whitehall fully behind pooled budgets and joint working, ending decades of silo mentality.

Community Budgets will let councils, boroughs or neighbourhoods team up with all public services in their patch to combine resources into a single locally coordinated ‘pool and save’ pot with greater local control of improved services for local people.

More information on the Community Budget pilots is available on the Department for Communities and Local Government website.

DCLG have also release further details on the four ‘Whole-Place’ Community Budget Pilot plans:

  • Greater Manchester aims to use joint investment from a range of partners to reduce levels of dependency and support growth critical to creating 56,000 private sector jobs over the next four years. They will use local evidence to decide how best to address cross cutting priorities like unemployment, low skills and dependency to support early intervention. This will result in a greater efficiency and public spending savings.
  • Cheshire West and Chester plan to review over 150 local services that have the potential to pool a single budget of £3-4 billion. They will make neighbourhoods safer and cleaner. Create new opportunities for jobs and learning as part of a ‘better deal’ for unemployed people. A first class children’s centre will be at the heart of the community plus help for older residents to lead independent lives.
  • West London – Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster – have put together a ‘Tri-Government Guarantee’, setting out their targets these include making sure every young person under 25 has a job or is in training or education; 80 per cert of children across the three boroughs achieve five A*-C grade GCSEs; access to high-quality affordable housing. The pilot will involve radically redesigning services and aligning funding in a number of key areas over the next 12 months.
  • Essex will encourage residents to play a greater role in their community and in helping to shape good value public services. Any savings delivered could be reinvested back into prevention and early intervention, not handed back to the Treasury. Local priorities include health and social care, skills for young people, economic growth and community safety.

More details on the Neighbourhood level Community Budget Plans:

  • Hammersmith & Fulham (White City) want to integrate neighbourhood service budgets including welfare, crime, social care and ‘clean/green’.
  • Tower Hamlets (Poplar Harca) want their neighbourhood services to include support for local enterprise with more spent on services than bureaucracy.
  • Bradford Trident will co-commission parish functions, health and unemployment services with youth and sports centres run by a social enterprise.
  • Tunbridge Wells (Sherwood) aims to devolve all appropriate service funding to a resident led trust.
  • Kingston (Norbiton) will extend Local Integrated Services to all neighbourhood funds looking at housing, policing and community engagement.
  • Haverhill will devolve a pooled budget to the ‘One Haverhill’ partnership. This will embed local knowledge and community influence over services.
  • Birmingham (Balshall Heath, Shard End, Castle Vale) want the pilots to become a catalyst for more pooled budgets focused on prevention. Balsall Heath Forum and Shard End will be community led approaches while Castle Vale Community Partnership will be housing association led.
  • Westminster (Queens Park) will create a Recovery and Early Action Partnership to bring all relevant services and residents in the neighbourhood together to focus on families at risk.
  • North Devon DC (Ilfracombe) will create shadow accounts in “Virtual bank” as the first step to co-commissioning, before moving to budgetary control. It will look at neighbourhood services, libraries and highways.
  • Newcastle (Cowgate, Kenton Bar, Montague) will broker agreements so ward committees can invest in family-support services delivered by a community enterprise.