Gordon Brown to cull ring-fenced budgets

Prime minister Gordon Brown plans to cut waste in local government by reducing ring-fenced budgets and simplifying funding streams, as part of an ambition to save £12bn over four years.

In a speech on Monday (7 December), Brown said the government would give councils more freedom on spending priorities by reducing “overused” ring-fencing. In an accompanying document, Putting the Frontline First, the government said 36 of the current 52 specific revenue grants to local authorities were ring-fenced, meaning the use of almost £40bn was restricted.

In addition, a major streamlining of arms-length bodies, which will lead to 120 being abolished, could have implications for social care. It comes near the end of a review of the roles of the General Social Care Council, Social Care Institute for Excellence, and Skills for Care, and just after the government announced a Social Work Reform Board to oversee the implementation of the Social Work Task Force report.

The government announced pilots for frontline service managers in children’s services to hold pooled budgets by late 2010, with a view to a national rollout if the scheme was successful.

In addition, it will invest money in voluntary agencies which aim to support families, through a pilot of social impact bonds.

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