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LGC View - The next phase of community budgets

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Whichever name you use - community budgets, public service transformation - everyone is agreed that significant change is needed.

Despite the agreement on the end, there is disagreement about the means.

As reported in this week’s news pages, community budget pioneer pilot Essex CC has expressed anger and frustration at the government’s refusal to meet its calls for localised skills and growth policies.

Using less robust language, MPs of the communities & local government select committee have also expressed disappointment at the failure of the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills to run with Essex’s idea.

At the same time as Essex says it has hit a wall with its community budget plans for skills and growth, nine other councils have embarked on a similar journey.

Although the name ‘community budgets’ has been dropped and the initiative rebranded as the ‘public sector transformation network’, our case studies show that many of the nine newest members are tackling the same theme as Essex.

With economic growth so critical at the moment, it is no surprise that local areas are keener than ever to improve their residents’ skills and employability.

The point of the network, as network director Rob Pollock explains online, is to make sure councils don’t all need to reinvent the wheel.

Let’s hope it also avoids them all hitting the same road block.

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