Abstracts: May 10th, 2010

This report from Communities and Local Government describes how expenditure of all public bodies in an area was assessed and used as a basis for the work of the Total Place pilot projects. It explores the strengths and weaknesses of spend counting.

The Total Place approach pulls together all delivery partners in the local area. It involves looking at service delivery from the local perspective to see how it changes the lives of local people, how much it costs and which partners from national down to local levels are involved. At the core of the Total Place concept is the intention to deliver better services more efficiently and to involve local agencies fully in the allocation of public resources to customer-focused service delivery.

Spend counting is a key component of Total Place because it seeks to understand the totality of public sector spend in a given geographical area and helps to establish the background against which local public sector bodies in that place, in partnership, can explore, realign and potentially reduce that spend. This is called the ‘high level’ spend count. Beyond this is the ‘deep dive’ analysis that pilots have undertaken looking at spend and organisational culture in relation to specific themes and issues. The high level count provides a framework for the deep dive.

The findings from this analysis consistently show that between 70% and 80% of the money spent locally goes on social protection, education and health.

The pilots have shown that savings can be made where duplication of service provision is found and in many cases the pilot areas know exactly where the overlaps are and are confident that they can deal with them quickly.

It is also clear there are areas where localities are currently over-providing services in relation to the real customer demand and that budgets for dealing with problems may be misaligned with the scale of the problems. This suggests there is significant scope for reduction in the cost of duplicating players and multiple layers of administration.

Total Place Spend Counting Analysis is available from CLG. http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/localgovernment/pdf/1531009