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Birmingham initiative hailed as future of 'Big Society'

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Birmingham City Council’s community-led early intervention programmes show local authorities how to deliver cheaper and “radically better” services, according to thinktank Localis.

A report into Birmingham’s Total Neighbourhood projects applauded efforts to give community groups greater power and investing in early intervention services using placed-based budgets.

The Aquarius project, which helps individuals suffering from alcohol and substance abuse on a face-to-face level, was found to have reduced alcohol-related antisocial behaviour by 54%.

The report called on the government to implement place-based budgeting and for councils to share expertise in early intervention programmes.

Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby (Con), right, said the city had become a “hotspot” for the development of the Big Society.

He added: “If we are going to do more with less, it is vital that we concentrate on early intervention and work with communities to strengthen their capacity to address local issues.

“In the years to come we may have a small council, but we will have a Big City in every sense of the word.”

Sir Michael Bichard, senior fellow at the Institute for Government, said: “The arrival of a new coalition government coupled with the now widespread acceptance that our governance system needs to change means that we have to quickly build on the Total Place thinking and lessons.

“This report seeks to do just that and is timely in describing the key components of this new approach.”

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