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Ministers unveil £410m transformation fund plus challenge panel

Ministers have unveiled a £410m funding package for local authority transformation and also set up an independent panel to look at how public services are delivered.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said £90m would be distributed immediately.

An additional £320m will be made available in 2014/15 and 2015/16 to areas “with ambitious plans for improving services that could include integrating health and social care; getting the unemployed back to work; or early intervention to get children ready for school”.

The DCLG added: “At the heart of all these plans will be a renewed drive to redesign public services in a way that works for users, as well as efforts to reduce long-term costs to the taxpayer by making public bodies both more efficient and more effective.”

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The Department said the £410 million funding was made up of:

  • £1m in 2013 to 2014 for nine local authorities working with the Public Service Transformation Network to speed up and scale up their transformation plans;
  • £6m in 2013 to 2014 for 13 local authorities who missed out on funding in the 2013 to 2014 Transformation Challenge Award bidding process;
  • £83m of unused capitalisation provision that has been transferred to councils in 2013 to 2014 “which provides additional revenue for every authority to invest in local service integration and transformation.” The unused capitalisation provision will be distributed to all authorities in line with the formula for councils’ Start Up Funding Assessments;
  • £15m for the Transformation Challenge Award 2014 to 2015 to support local authorities working with partners across the public service to transform services, “including smaller districts who wish to share management teams”;
  • £105m for the Transformation Challenge Award 2015 to 2016 and £200m capital receipt flexibility in 2015 to 2016.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “This £410m funding package will help to fundamentally change the way local public services are delivered to residents. The Troubled Families programme has led the way in showing how services can be improved by building them around what people want and need, not how agencies want to organise themselves.

“We now want to take the same approach to all services, starting with joined up health and social care through our £3.8bn Better Care Fund, which will help keep people out of hospital and provide high-quality care at home. This funding will help councils to transform their services faster and provide a better deal for the taxpayer too.”

The Service Transformation Challenge Panel will meanwhile be chaired by Derek Myers, chair of the board of trustees of Shelter and former joint chief executive of Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham councils, and Pat Ritchie, chief executive of Newcastle City Council.

The independent panel will advise “on what needs to happen both locally and nationally to increase the pace and scale of transformation within public services”. It will also make recommendations where barriers to transformation are identified.

Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “I want to see local authorities with more power to deliver better services for people in their area. The new panel will help identify and accelerate the changes local areas need to make to support vulnerable children and young people, prevent crime and get people back into work.”

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