NLGN’s Chris Leslie is clear that evaluating all public spending in council areas is a building block for change.
What he is less certain about is how joint working between councils, primary care trusts and other bodies can be pushed forward. Incentives, he says, will be necessary.
“One route would be to democratise all agencies under local government control,” he says.
“But I wonder whether, between those two poles, there is a set of softer powers we might consider - the horizontal accountability of chief executives to one another, for example.
“Is there a way we can incentivise those fiefdoms to work together in a more practical way?
“It’s often said that partnerships are the suppression of mutual animosities in pursuit of cash. When cash is even tighter how do we force the pace on the pooling of budgets?”
Mr Leslie suggests that a “kind of Gershon requirement”, in which local bodies contribute 1% or 2% of their budgets to a “partnership pot”, could force better mutual working.
“There is enthusiasm [for Total Place], but I think it will run into the tough stuff when people realise it will mean ceding sovereignty on some issues.”
Chris Leslie is director, New Local Government Network