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Whole-place budget pilots to finalise teams

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The areas piloting ‘whole place’ community budgets are close to finalising the teams of local and Whitehall officials who will investigate the scope for pulling together all public services delivered in a local area.

The areas piloting ‘whole place’ community budgets are close to finalising their teams of local and Whitehall officials to investigate the scope for pulling together all public services delivered in a specific area.

The four areas involved are working to a date of 1 March to confirm the final details of who will be seconded from Whitehall. At least two areas - Greater Manchester and Cheshire West & Chester - are holding induction events next week.

The pilot areas have been told the officials from eight spending departments will be of ‘deputy director’ or ‘head of team’ level.

They are the Department for Communities & Local Government, the Cabinet Office, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, the Department for Education, the Department of Health, the Department for Work & Pensions, HM Treasury, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice.

Pilot areas are also securing the input of work programme providers in their areas.

In Greater Manchester, details of the wider team of local officials involved in the pilot have become clear. Kevin Brady, deputy chief executive of Salford City Council, will be the full-time programme director.

Senior representatives from Greater Manchester’s police force, probation trust and NHS cluster will be involved along with other local authorities from the city region. Private and civil society sector expertise will be provided through Avanta, one of the city region’s work programme prime contractors.

Steven Pleasant, chief executive of Tameside MBC and one of the lead council chief executives for the project, said: “I think it’s coming together really well. We are very happy with the team we’ve got.”

Greater Manchester is hoping to tie the community budget pilot in with its work as part of the ‘city deal’ negotiations.

As part of this, the city wants the government to set up a Greater Manchester-specific senior officials group. This would be chaired by Manchester City Council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein and a “senior Whitehall official” and would also cover the city’s work on troubled families.

Dan Gascoyne, Essex CC’s assistant director for corporate policy, strategy and partnerships, confirmed the officials seconded from Whitehall would be at deputy director or team leader level and said he expected them to be in place by 12 March.

“We’ve always stressed the importance not so much of their technical experience or grade but of them being the right type of individual and their enthusiasm,” he said.

“We want them to be able to think differently around how public services are delivered,” he added.

Jo Lappin, interim head of strategy for Cheshire West & Chester, said the pilot was still involved in some “last minute to-ing and fro-ing” over the Whitehall officials but said they would be in place in time for next week’s induction event.

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