Over the course of the Labour Government, the provision of services became increasingly centralised with little room for variation to accommodate local priorities. While the previous government eventually realised, to an extent, that funding should be more flexible and focused on the needs of service users, it is now, with the coalition government committed to achieving improved services at lower cost, that there is a real opportunity to consider radical new alternatives. While the ‘Big Society’ agenda looks to provide communities with greater opportunity to control and shape how services are provided, there are widespread problems in the public sector that must be tackled to allow this vision to be fulfilled.
With a foreword by Lord Bichard, this report argues that funding streams must be simplified and pooled within areas; that early intervention programmes, where possible community-led, can deliver significant improvements in public sector outcomes; and that, alongside place-based budgets, new financial products should be developed to fund local social programmes that may have long term cost savings. Taken together, the recommendations put forward in this report describe the next step in the localisation agenda ? Total Neighbourhood.