Manchester and Cheshire to pilot new funding regime

The 10 Greater Manchester authorities and Cheshire West & Chester Council are among the four successful bidders to pilot a new way of funding local services.

The trial for 'whole community budgets' will see various sources of central government funding pooled into a single pot.

The government says this is a more efficient way to distribute funds and could save up to 20% of spending.

It is focused on frontline services but the government said it could apply to budgets for housing, transport and regeneration.

Cheshire West & Chester said 150 local services may be involved – creating a potential budget of £3-4bn.

Greater Manchester said it will focus on tackling dependency on public services and supporting economic growth.

The two other successful bids were from a joint application from the London authorities of Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea; and Essex County Council.

Lord Peter Smith, chair of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, said: "It is forecast that 56,000 private sector jobs will be created here in the next four years which will help support a rebalancing of the national economy so that when there is growth it will be in Greater Manchester and the North West, not just in London and the South East.

"But unless we can tackle worklessness, low skills and dependency on central and local government we will not be able to achieve the region's full potential. We want Community Budgets to form a central plank of our Greater Manchester Strategy to achieve prosperity for all."

Cheshire West & Chester council leader Mike Jones said: "It represents a powerful vote of confidence in this authority and our track record of working with our partners to make things happen.

"For West Cheshire, community budgets are about much more than just 'joining things up'. The focus is on outcomes, not organisations – to boost the quality of life for all our residents.

"We have been handed a golden opportunity to transform the way public services are delivered. The eyes of central Government and the rest of the country will be on us to see how it is done."

A further 10 smaller 'neighbourhood level' pilots will run in: Cowgate, Kenton Bar and Montague in Newcastle; White City, Kingston, Poplar, Queens Park in London; Ilfracombe in North Devon; Bradford Trident; Sherwood in Tunbridge Wells; Haverhill and Castle Vale, Shard End and Balsall Heath in Birmingham.

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