Posted by:12 January, 2012
In retrospect, the government’s ‘surprise’ announcement that instead of selecting two areas to pilot whole place community budget proposals, ministers had chosen four, was a classic piece of expectations management.
To under-promise and over-deliver is a well-worn tactic for everyone from the political professional to the errant husband negotiating with his wife a return time from his post-work trip to the pub.
Nevertheless, local government has plenty to be negative about as it enters 2012 and positives should be jumped upon whenever they present themselves.
The community budgets programme - however limited in ambition it may be - is one of those positives. (The Cabinet Office’s ‘city deals’ programme is another).
And while the Department for Communities & Local Government’s prospectus is filled with caveats and references to the programme merely being a ‘proof of concept exercise’, the areas involved are setting their sights high.
As the answers that the pilots supplied to our set questions show, there is plenty of ambition. The west London tri-borough insists it will not be treating flagship government policies such as the Work Programme or GP commissioning as sacrosanct. And Essex makes it clear that its starting point is that all national and local government spending and services will be encompassed within the scope of the pilot.
The process through which the councils involved work with their teams in Whitehall should prove fascinating.
From Civic Regalia
LGC’s political editor Dan Drillsma-Milgrom blogs on all aspects of town hall life