Helping Whitehall let go: How can Community Budgets gain traction in Whitehall?

Speaker: Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP, Cabinet Office Minister

Chair: Ian Mulheirn, SMF Director

The Coalition Government is putting considerable energy into Community Budgets, City Deals and the Single Local Growth Fund as part of its public services reform agenda, economic growth strategy and localism drive. Initial evidence indicates that Community Budgets have the potential to achieve significant savings, by allowing commissioners at the local level to pool budgets, reducing duplication and waste, and achieve economies. And with the next Spending Review looming, reforming commissioning is becoming an urgent priority.

However, the proportion of services commissioned through Community Budgets remains comparatively small and significant barriers appear to stand in the way of their expansion. The policy agenda is heavily reliant on Whitehall cooperation, but commentators suggest that the progress of Whitehall departments is very mixed in this regard. Pilots have also highlighted a range of stumbling blocks including accountability, data sharing and social investment. So what needs to happen to get Community Budgets off the ground?