Eric Pickles is throwing away the real prize of improved services and real savings by excluding some of the biggest budgets of mainstream spending.
It shows the new Coalition is not serious about Total Place and the hopes of local government fade in having the powers to pool budgets across local service spending.
This is what was in Labour’s March 2010 budget proposals and election manifesto - asking councils and public services like probation, police and health, to put forward proposals to pool funds free from central performance and financial control.
Plans set out by Eric Pickles and the Coalition are excluding huge areas of spending and the ability to look at the total budget of close to £200bn for education, health, probation and police, and make it work harder locally. Not all of this would be pooled or is spent locally but cooperation on local spending is left to the good will of local managers. And all the while schools spending is being fragmented with free schools and new academies, PCTs being broken up, despite their role in delivering Total Place, and the police facing elected commissioners with their own agendas.
The Total Place work in Croydon, which looked at improving services for children under seven, found barriers and silos must be brought down; similarly in Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland on alcohol misuse in order to achieve savings of £12m from the £143m spend; and Bradford on reducing reoffending rates; and Lewisham to achieve £6.5m to £10m in savings on better asset management and procurement.
As the prospect of significant change slips away, Eric Pickles’s ill-thought out approach means hard pressed local tax payers will be denied the prospect of all the efficiencies and improvements to local services.