It is difficult not to be cynical about yet another Government attempt to encourage public agencies and councils to work more closely together.
And anything called Total Place launched by Ministers with such a surfeit of exaggerated claims – the most radical local government reform ever, slashing bureaucracy, making money work harder etc, etc – is setting itself up for a spectacular fall if the lessons of history are anything to go by.
The truth is that the Total Place initiative is a sexed-up way of reminding the Birmingham City Strategic Partnership that it has much work to do if it is to fulfil its duties with respect to requiring all of the public bodies to work more effectively together. The partnership, now called Be Birmingham, already has a remit to pretty much what the Government requires from Total Place.
The theory is, of course, simple and absolutely right.
Far too much money is wasted by public bodies adopting a silo mentality, creating their own empires and refusing to co-operate with each other. But most previous attempts to break down these barriers have failed to go very far.
In Birmingham, for example, the city council has been arguing with a primary care trust for years about who should pay to look after adults with learning disabilities, while demarcation disputes in social care between councils and health trusts are legendary – generally boiling down to a who-pays-for-what row.
Good luck to the Government, which seems genuinely to want radical ideas from local government.
Total Place has been given a new edge and importance by the certainty of huge public spending after the next General Election – but it remains to be seen whether the public sector has the ability or the wish to deliver.