Ministers launch £9m fund to encourage council link-ups

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COUNCILS have been offered help to develop ways of working together as the Government looks to overhaul the way local services are funded.

In the wake of this week’s Budget, Ministers have launched a £9m fund which will support up to four groups of councils who want to combine frontline or back- 
office services on a significant scale.

It will also help up to 30 groups who want to join forces on a smaller scale such as through sharing IT or buying goods together.

Councils sharing services, particularly back office functions, is seen as a significant way savings can be made on the costs of running local government.

The Government has also been piloting a new way of funding local services known as community budgets.

This approach funds different parts of the public sector to work together on joint initiatives rather than giving money to different organisations.

The aim of community budgets is to have more joined-up services and reduced duplication, so saving money.

The Government believes between £9bn and £20bn of public money could be saved over five years if community budgets were rolled out nationwide.

A network of experts will take the lessons learned from the four 
pilot schemes in West Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Essex and London and look at ways they can be applied to other parts of the country.

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Every 
public service can be improved 
so that it works better and costs less.

“Many places are already finding new and innovative ways to deliver top notch services fit for the 21st century.

“To help achieve this I’m delighted to announce the creation of a new nationwide network, inspired by our community budget pilots, and our £9m Transformation Challenge Award.

“This will put councils – and other local agencies – at the centre of a public service revolution, bringing every player together in a smarter way, stripping out duplication, targeting service dependency and saving hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money.”