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Shared services fund opens

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Authorities considering shared services and joint working with other councils can apply for funding of up to £2m, the Department for Communities & Local Government has announced.

Further details of the £9.2m Transformation Challenge Award announced last month have been unveiled with councils given a year to apply for funding which could cover set up costs.

Following on from the government’s rejection on Monday of Lord Heseltine’s call for unitary government, DCLG guidance for the transformation award makes it clear boundary reorganisations are not the aim of the funding. Instead the cash is for authorities working together “whilst maintaining their separate council identity and elected members”, the department said.

Funding allocation: key points-

  • Three to four groups of councils can apply for awards of up to £2m each to cover the set up costs for front line or back office sharing
  • Up to thirty groups of councils can apply for awards of between £50,000 and £500,000 for “more limited sharing” such as linked IT systems or joint procurement.
  • The seven councils which faced the most significant cuts in the local government settlement, and are set to receive an “efficiency support grant” to limit cuts to 8.8% of spending power, can apply for a top up if they prove their reforms go further than originally planned
  • Councils who win an award “will be subject to light touch monitoring at regular intervals throughout the year to ensure progress is being made”.

Councils have until March 2014 to submit applications for awards which will be paid in May 2014.

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