Headlines: February 18th, 2010

The 13 total Place pilot projects which have looked at how public money is spent in a local area and how it can be used more efficiently to improve local services have delivered their reports to ministers. They show that focusing on the customer and cutting out duplication and overlap will open the way for radical changes to public services which will bring improvements at a lower cost.

The reports show that by adopting the approach used in the pilot projects there is a potential to save millions of pounds of public money. The Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset pilot project found that they can save £12m by refocusing resources from acute care for older people to supporting them to live at home and thereby reducing hospital admissions by some 15 per cent.

The Bradford pilot found that much of the assessment done of prisoners is for administrative purposes. When the assessments were challenged it was found that in fact, only around half was for statutory or duty of care purposes. One prisoner described this as being ‘assessed to death but helped very little’.

The potential cost savings will be fed into the Budget which is expected to be delivered on the 18th or 25th March 2010. It is likely that public service budget cuts will reflect the recommendations for change made in the reports of the pilot projects. Communities minister John Denham has warned that running the most effective and efficient operation is not the same as conducting a crude cost cutting exercise that sacrifices all notions of standards.