The government’s £30m Transforming Local Infrastructure fund has caused "potential duplication and inefficiency across local authority borders", according to a report from the umbrella body Navca.
The Cabinet Office announced last year that 72 partnerships had been awarded a share of £30m from the fund, which was set up to help infrastructure organisations work together more closely.
The report, written by the consultant Sally Cooke, found a number of issues within TLI that could "store up future problems if not addressed". It says that, although there is a heavy emphasis on rationalisation within areas, there is no such emphasis between areas.
This means there is "the potential for duplication and inefficiency across local authority borders within this programme and with other programmes and initiatives".
The report says: "It is going to be more difficult to improve practices across the board, such as improving the quality of commissioning for infrastructure services, if there are lots of standards for different local areas."
Cooke’s report also raises concerns about Navca members who do not get TLI support. It says the Big Assist infrastructure support scheme offers some support "but it does not have the resources to provide a similar level of support that TLI has provided".
Joe Irvin, chief executive of Navca, said he hoped that some flexibility could be afforded to those organisations that had been funded by the programme and which wanted more time in which to spend the money.
Richard Caulfield, chief executive of the regional network Voluntary Sector North West, wrote to the government last month to ask for the timetable to be extended so the money could be used more effectively.
Irvin said: "We hope that some discretion can be applied on a case-by-case basis if it can be shown that a little flexibility provides a real advantage for taxpayers.
"More importantly, this report highlights the type of work that TLI is supporting. We know that areas that did not receive this funding are facing exactly the same issues. How are these areas going to be supported? Big Assist might offer some support, but it won’t offer enough to any one area to create opportunities for transformation on the scale that TLI has provided."