Assessing the Use of Pooled Resource Approaches by Local Authorities in the UK

Aerial view of the Cotswolds, UK

Photo by Matthew Dixon/iStock


An important element of the debate about the reform of public services in the United Kingdom (UK) is the desire to maximise the benefits to local communities from coordinating the efforts and resources of multiple local agencies, and breaking down ‘silo’ government.

The devolution to some authorities of powers and responsibilities for some public services, and ongoing resource pressures, are encouraging innovative and locally developed approaches – in particular 'pooling resources' across actors involved in local service delivery.

To help establish a case for a new approach to public service transformation, the Local Government Association (LGA) sought a robust and compelling evidence base in support of what can be achieved for residents by using a ‘pooled resources’ approach.


In 2014, the Local Government Association (LGA) People and Places Board commissioned RAND Europe to prepare nine case studies of places in England (UK) where LGA knew a pooled approach was being used for service delivery. The objective was to describe the development of different initiatives and to comment on what appeared to be the enablers and barriers to progress.

The specific initiatives implemented by agencies using a pooled approach covered different services including health and social care, skills and vocational training, regeneration, economic growth, troubled families and the management of public assets.

Collaborative Working Initiatives Across the UK

  • West Yorkshire

    Creation of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority
  • Cambridge

    Managing the growing demand for services through collaboration, including the City Deal
  • Suffolk

    "Lowestoft Rising" is an integrated approach to service delivery to tackle social problems
  • Greater Essex

    Skills for economic growth and tackling the mismatch between vacancies and available skills
  • Surrey

    Joined-up service provision and collaboration through the Family Support Programme
  • Cheshire West and Chester

    Integrated early support
  • Derbyshire

    Use of geospatial mapping and customer segmentation for better use of the public estate
  • Cornwall

    Integrated care and health provision
  • Devon

    Engaging local communities in service co-delivery


To undertake the project, RAND Europe gathered evidence from a number of sources. The team conducted a review of the relevant literature on community budgets, pooling and public service reform, conducted interviews with key representatives involved in the initiatives, and conducted a workshop with representatives from all nine places to discuss emerging findings.


RAND Europe was able to draw conclusions on general lessons about the factors that appear to be influencing collaborative working for service delivery. Enablers and barriers for more effective sharing of resources as part of public service transformation include:

Enablers Barriers
  • Pragmatic approach to achieving goals
  • Generating and using data
  • Focusing on outcomes
  • Changing organisational culture and behaviour
  • Lack of buy-in from government bodies
  • Uncertainty around devolution
  • Specific legislative and regulatory barriers
  • Lack of alignment between national & local funding priorities

Based on the evidence from the nine initiatives LGA asked RAND Europe to make recommendations for what a ‘public sector reform deal’ – a series of ‘asks’ of government and ‘offers’ from places – might look like:

Asks of central government Asks of local agencies
  • Pooling funding at source around complex issues
  • Multi-year funding
  • Encouragement to local agencies of government departments to collaborate routinely
  • Integrated commissioning
  • Removal of impediments to data sharing
  • Government support to local initiatives through skills and secondments
  • Avoiding target-driven burden
  • Development of clear goals for improved outcomes
  • Evidence-based design of programmes
  • Commitment to data collection and monitoring of performance
  • Robust governance and decision-making arrangements
  • Development of an affordable offer
  • Accountable leadership
  • Commitment to an ambitious agenda of change
  • Creativity and innovation


Project Team

Jeremy Lonsdale
Christian Van Stolk
Benoit Guerin
Marco Hafner
Daniel Schweppenstedde

Related Resources