However, there is still a lot of variation in the practice of partnerships around the country and across the different departments of public authorities. What can be done to ensure that public bodies and others involved in partnerships give more priority to community involvement? How can we be sure that the rhetoric of partnership with communities is translated into effective practice?
One thing that public bodies and partnerships do take seriously is the need to account for public money through financial audit. Over the years the need to account for public money has influenced the ways that public bodies are structured and the systems and procedures that they set up. It has also influenced the way that partnerships are designed and run. If a similarly rigorous account had to be given of the measures taken to encourage community involvement, would this ensure that public authorities and partnerships were structured in ways that facilitated genuine participation and took community issues and views on board?