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Councils to ‘get control over Whitehall budgets’  

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Manchester, Birmingham and Westminster City Councils and Hammersmith & Fulham LBC are well placed to be among an elite group of councils to trial place-based budgets, LGC understands.

The news follows Local Government Group improvement board chairman, David Parsons (Con), revealing to Conservative party conference delegates that details of a string of place based budgets ‘prototypes’ would be unveiled in the spending review.

A senior source close to negotiations told LGC arrangements were far from finalised but the aforementioned councils were thought to be well placed to among about 12 councils to take part.

Senior local government leaders and Local Government Group chiefs are in talks with a number of Whitehall departments in a bid to sell the idea.

Prototype councils could be handed a range of budgets currently held by Whitehall, including youth offending, drug and alcohol treatment and skills funding, following on from preliminary findings outlined by the Total Place pilots.

“We are talking about a range of budgets currently controlled by Whitehall. Councils could put together joint packages for clients who currently receive attention from a range of different public agencies,” the source said.

Both the Leicestershire CC and Leicester City Council and Birmingham Total Place reports, published earlier this year, suggested more flexible alcohol and drugs funding could help tackle these priorities.

In particular changing current ring fenced drug treatment budgets to include alcohol treatment, and a stronger focus on prevention.

The news follows the Local Government Association publishing a report in the summer which said £4.5bn a year could be slashed off budgets by devolving power to localities.

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