Headlines: August 3rd, 2010

Placed based budgets, which are vital to the development of the total place approach, are supported by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles. He revealed that among other supporters are the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Chancellor.

Although Eric Pickles supports place based budgeting, he dislikes the name and suggested that a more appropriate term might be ‘community budgets’.

Without a change in traditional budgeting where funding streams are related to the responsibilities of central departments, total place is likely to wither away. Giving service delivery a customer focus brings together a range of organisations carrying out complementary functions. The almost inevitable outcome is that additional costs will have to be borne by organisations that do not receive any benefit in the form of savings. Enabling older people to remain longer in their own homes, without frequent hospitalisation, is a cost to social services, but results in a substantial saving to the health budget. Overall, the taxpayer reaps a dividend from the extra spend.

Traditional budgets are even more hostile when the benefits are deferred for perhaps a decade. Early years intervention can produce some early benefits in education and child support, but some of the largest cost savings might come in a reduction in teenage crime a decade or more later. But again, the taxpayer benefits.

Eric Pickles also described total place as a step in the right direction, but it was the smallest, most begrudging step possible. Work is progressing on greater delegation.

Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd has also given his support to total place. He said he saw it as an opportunity to drive Big Society further.