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The Department for Education & Skills has advised local government to pool its...
The Department for Education & Skills has advised local government to pool its

children's services resources with other major service providers.

The department said it wants to see more joint funding agreements between councils and delivery partners as a step towards improving services for children.

It believes agreements between councils and agencies, such as primary care trusts, would result in more effective commissioning, better deployment of resources and improved outcomes for children.

Some councils have already begun to do this, but the department's guidance said uncertainty over how joint funding works is preventing greater numbers of agreements from being brokered.

The guidance sets out different means by which councils can pool resources or align budgets, how they should maintain accountability and resolve any disputes.

Any joint funding arrangements would be distinct from local area agreements, which tend to focus on the relationship between local and central government, a spokeswoman said.

Children's minister Beverley Hughes said: 'We are starting to see the benefits as local partners develop and implement joint funding agreements. Money is being more effectively focused to help shape local services that are better able to meet the needs of children.'

David Hawker, director of children's services at Brighton & Hove City Council, which has pooled its budget with the local PCT and the South Downs NHS Health Trust, said the process enabled it to integrate its services more effectively.

'Funding can be applied more quickly and more flexibly,' he said.

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