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A key theme throughout the Welsh Assembly Government’s (WAG’s) ‘Shared Responsibility’ document, published in March last year, was to develop and enable collaborative working between local government and other sectors. That document was in part the WAG’s commitment to make delivery of such efficiencies by local government in Wales clearer and easier. It is strongly linked with the Wales Spatial Plan, also published in March 2007, with a focus on cross-sector common objectives. The Spatial Plan is due to be updated early this year with a new focus on delivering the spatial priorities previously identified. If ‘delivery’ is to be the buzzword of 2008, it is worth assessing how far local authorities have come in achieving the delivery of shared services or whether such collaborative working is still a thing of the future.

To assist in the facilitation of collaborative working in Wales, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) agreed a multimillion-pound funding package to run from 2006 to 2008 to further support public services. Up to 70% grant funding (to a maximum of £200,000) could be obtained in annual funding rounds where at least two public bodies are collaborating on a particular project. By this second year of funding, around 40 joint projects – which include a number of local authority-led initiatives – have been supported. However, the consistent message of the majority of these projects is that they are feasibility studies, exploring options, establishing a business case and so on:

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