Headlines: October 18th, 2011

Community budgets pilots are to be extended in April 2012. Councils have been invited to bid for community budget funding to support families with complex needs.

The first pilot community budgets schemes were launched in April 2011 and in June 2011 plans to extend the schemes were announced. There are further plans to extend community budgets beyond families with complex needs.

It is estimated that there are some 120,000 most troubled families and although they make up less than one per cent of the population, they are costing the economy over £8 billion a year.

Community budgets provide a single pot of money that the 20 or so local agencies involved with a family can draw on. The budgets allow the agencies to adopt a team approach to responding to the difficulties of the families and so avoid duplication and overlap.

A Community Budgets prospectus, published by CLG, sets out the details for selecting the next wave of pilots by the end of the year. Each area will get dedicated support so that projects can be up and running by April 2013.

Two areas will be invited to design and run a public service budget programme controlled at ‘neighbourhood level’. A further two areas will design and run a ‘whole place’ or local level programme to test how all public services can be integrated and managed as a single budget within a council boundary or wider city area.

Each pilot will establish devolved budget and policy making structures to secure better co-ordinated, more efficient services for residents. This can help government to make significant public sector savings, cut red tape and improve policy making.