Public bodies must examine whether partnerships are delivering amid evidence some agencies do not know how many they are involved in, the Audit Commission has said.
In a report this week, the commission says councils and other bodies should disengage from those partnerships that are failing to deliver, and that there are significant accountability problems in too many joint arrangements.
It says scrutiny of partnerships is patchy, complaints procedures are embryonic and annual reports are under-developed.
The report calls for formal arrangements in partnerships covering the management of money, risk and performance, information sharing and staffing, and much more transparency about how joint arrangements work.
But it also calls for the government to rationalise existing partnerships, currently numbering about 5,500 in the UK, and give them fewer, more outcome-focused targets.
Governing partnerships: bridging the accountability gap is available from www.auditcommission.gov.uk