RE: Scrutiny & Total Place
We did, of course, produce a report on this a couple of months ago which can be found in the publications section on the site.
There is a certain amount of sceptcisim at the moment in national policy circles about whether Total Place/community budgeting will ever really come to pass in the way envisaged. Success is predicated, for the most part, on significant investment at the outset. At the moment, that simply isn't likely to happen. Furthermore, it seems to me that TP and the "Big Society" are mutually exclusive - TP is said to be about "local centralism", whereas the BS posits a more distributed idea of decision-making. Now this is probably to overstate the case (as I said in our report, TP will also involve decision-making being fragmented) but there are still inconsistencies around planning, partnership working and finance that need to be resolved.
What I expect is most likely is that authorities and their partners will cherry-pick some "quick wins" from a TP-style approach - things that focus on shared services, colocation of staff and other things that can deliver immediate cash savings. Scrutiny can and should certainly be involved in this process as it remains to be seen whether shared services in itself will help to improve efficiency or deliver savings when decoupled from the wider framework of Total Place.