From the Guardian:
Huge savings of more than £20bn can be made in the cost of local services by looking at spending on all the local public services in an area, and not just council spending, the communities secretary, John Denham, claims.
His startling claim came after he digested reports at the weekend on 13 pilot schemes entitled Total Place that have looked at ending duplication and new ways of co-ordinating the provision of services.
The pilots, launched last July, appeared to have drawn enthusiastic support from politicians, councillors and public sector workers of all political persuasions.
Denham said better asset management alone could save £20bn over 10 years: “An average saving of around 5-6% just through better use of assets across the pilot suggests that this could potentially save in the region of £20bn nationally.”
He said: “Total Place is helping identify where blockages exist which prevent change across the board, overcoming the long-standing professional, cultural and funding barriers which have historically proved a big stumbling block to reform.
“It means a much more open debate about the best way to provide services locally.
“Rather than services protecting their own territory and budgets, it means switching resources between different providers. This cuts out duplication, waste and bureaucracy, saving professionals’ time and services’ money – running into millions of pounds – which can be reinvested.
“But it also improves people’s experience, so they get a genuinely seamless service.”
With local government finances likely to be under intense pressure over the next few years, it will be a test for Denham to see how much of the savings can be retained by local government rather than swallowed up by the Treasury.
Each pilot has been a mapping exercise working out total public spending in a specific area, such as children’s health, alcohol or crime. Examples include:
• Central Bedfordshire and Luton found just 2% of offenders cause nearly 30% of all crime locally and it costs about £500,000 a year for each persistent and prolific offender. The cost of local crime was £147m. The pilot found that benefits, prison, housing and probation services did not co-ordinate their help after offenders were released from jail. The pilot also found there were 52 different benefits available like housing benefit or job seekers allowance and it took three weeks to process a new claimant. Many offenders claimed they were forced to re-offend.
• Birmingham city council found children in care – who make up 2% of the city’s child population – cost £35m a year while each of Birmingham’s 6,400 crack addicts costs £833,000 in wider “social costs” over their lifetime. The city’s total annual budget is £7.5bn.
• Kent county council estimated a third of the current total cost of administering an unemployment claim could be saved by simplifying the system.
• Leicester city council found it spent £4.9m on alcohol interventions, and £13.4m on combating drug misuse, even though alcohol was a larger cause of crime.