Time for Total Place #2?

At Shared Intelligence we are convinced the time is ripe for Total Place #2

write Phil Swann and Tony Blake.

Local councils and their partners face a combination of challenges that require close collaboration and engagement with local communities and businesses: responding to coronavirus; supporting economic recovery; re-thinking town and city centres; tackling health inequalities; and responding to the climate emergency. All this at a time of continued pressure on public expenditure.

Launched in the 2009 post-financial crisis budget, the original Total Place programme involved 13 areas pursuing a fully joined up approach to make best use of public expenditure locally.

The institutional landscape has changed significantly in last decade, with many developments building on the lessons from Total Place. These include: the development of integrated care systems; the troubled families programme; the establishment of multi-agency safeguarding hubs; and the creation of local enterprise partnerships, health and wellbeing boards and mayoral combined authorities.

Yet many of the issues Total Place was designed to address remain. Research published by the Local Government Association (LGA) last month (updating Si’s own 2014 study) showed that between 2015-16 and 2018-19 councils in England received at least 488 individual government grants, around a third of which involved a competitive bidding process. In our research earlier this year into the financial impact of local government we demonstrated the extent to which council services deliver significant financial benefits for other public services, reducing the demand for some services and providing more cost-effective alternatives to others.

The need for a more integrated and strategic approach to taking funding and investment decisions locally is more pressing than ever. The core Total Place methodology, summarised in the diagram below, provides a potential way forward.

Total Place #2 could involve a network of five to ten places applying this approach in their area and working together on the common themes and challenges that emerge.

At Si we are keen to work with places and organisations to design Total Place #2. In doing so we would draw on our experience of:

  • Providing the project director for the Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole Total Place Pilot and supporting the Birmingham Pilot;
  • Supporting community budget exercises in Essex and Durham;
  • Designing and facilitating action research processes to support initiatives such as this;
  • Supporting the development of local visions, strategies and plans in a variety of settings including place-based visions and economic recovery plans;
  • Developing a deep understanding of user and community needs and supporting the delivery of ambitious public service reform and transformation programmes.

If you would like to discuss these ideas please contact us at solutions@sharedintelligence.net or call 020 7756 7600.

1 Comment
  • Tim Chapman
    Posted at 10:35h, 23 December Reply

    I’m interested in exploring how Total Place could be resuscitated and how it could relate to Town Planning. Can we discuss please?

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