Headlines: March 22nd, 2010

A lack of joined-up working in Whitehall is threatening to derail the Government’s Total Place initiative, according to the New Local Government Network. In one of the most detailed studies so far of Total Place, research has found that a lack of coherence between Government departments and a historic reluctance to devolve power is putting the project at risk.

The NLGN, which has produced the report to inform debate on the future of Total Place before the Budget, said billions of pounds in savings could be achieved at the local level by better joined-up services. But, it says, major change is needed to break existing top-down models and cultures of accountability and service delivery, which lead to significant inefficiency and waste in public services.

The report calls for the establishment of a Department for Devolved Government to take over the work of the Department For Communities and Local Government, the Cabinet Office and the Scottish and Welsh offices and to drive devolution across Whitehall. Locally elected politicians should have more power to decide how and where services are delivered. It also argues for accountability for health budgets and local policing to be devolved immediately to councils.

Other recommendations include giving councils discretion over spending on regeneration, transport and housing in a single capital pot, strengthening Local Strategic Partnerships, asset mapping across all local areas, a new joint Parliamentary and Local Government ‘Total Place Progress Committee and the setting up of a Collaborative Leadership Academy to develop leadership across the public sector.