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Local authorities to be funded to set up mutuals

A new fund has been launched to help local authorities deliver services through new commercial models, such as mutuals and voluntary organisations.

The Delivering Differently programme is a collaboration between the Cabinet Office, the DCLG, the LGA and SOLACE. It will offer a £1m fund to support ten local authorities to adopt new forms of service delivery.

Successful applicants will receive professional support to undertake a strategic review of the options, guidance from an expert panel, and opportunities to network with other local authorities in the challenge.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said: “The entire public sector faces the challenges of reduced expenditure and rising customer demand. Hard working taxpayers expect us to meet these challenges and to do so we must transform the way services are delivered and break down the old binary choice between in-house and outsourced delivery.

“We know that by letting front-line staff leave the bureaucratic state hierarchy behind and take ownership of their services, greater efficiency and success can be achieved.

“That’s why thousands of public servants across the country are taking control of their services and developing innovative delivery models, such as mutuals. It is great to see this spreading to Local Authorities who are responsible for many of our core public services.”

Local government secretary Eric Pickles said: “Across the country dozens of councils are already doing more with less, cutting back office bureaucracy and focusing on providing the high quality frontline services that people expect, which has contributed to levels of satisfaction with councils going up nationally.

“Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster for instance have teamed up to share their services more effectively whilst at the same time freezing or even cutting council tax. We are now going further still, helping 10 more councils take the initiative and find better more innovative ways of delivering local services for their residents, supported by £1m of government funding.”

Cllr Peter Fleming, chair of LGA’s Improvement Board, said: “Local authorities are already embracing new ways to provide their services and we are keen to see the additional possibilities which the Delivering Differently programme will bring.

“Councils are committed to ensuring residents can access cost effective services in a convenient way and we are pleased that this fund will enable councils to further develop their innovative ideas and approaches for alternative delivery models as part of their commitment to delivering vital services to communities.”

Applications should be sent to [email protected]..

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