Abstracts: July 5th, 2004

The Local Government Act 2000 gave added impetus to promoting well-being. It introduced a duty for local authorities to prepare a community strategy for their area and it gave them the power to promote economic, social and environmental well-being. This report from the Audit Commission examines how local leaders match their ambitions to local circumstances and the workings of the local end of the well-being delivery chain. It concludes that the current institutional arrangements, the complex interaction of national programmes, initiatives and targets, and complicated partnership arrangements confuse lines of responsibility and accountability and hamper successful delivery at local level.The complex funding arrangements from a bewildering variety of sources result in excessive administrative costs and uncertainty about the long-term sustainability of projects. The delivery of central government’s priorities suffers from a ‘Humpty Dumpty effect because efforts to promote economic growth, social justice and environmental sustainability fracture when they hit the ground in departmental silos, just like Humpty when he fell off the wall. Local leaders play the role of all the King’s horses and all the King’s men, as they try to put the pieces back together again. The cases studied show that where local leaders succeed they are able to improve well-being by developing coherent programmes of change that are based on local needs and opportunities.

The report suggests that a new local delivery framework could be developed with local strategic partnerships as the basic unit of oversight for the delivery of both special initiatives and mainstream services. Two key elements proposed that differ from the current system are tapping into different funding streams without being driven by them and engaging with communities to ensure that interventions are responsive to local concerns.

Published by the Audit Commission and available at http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/reports/NATIONAL-REPORT.asp?CategoryID=english^576>&ProdID=C25BEB47-CE10-4faa-9484-611B3014E610 <http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/reports/NATIONAL-REPORT.asp?CategoryID=english%5e576&ProdID=C25BEB47-CE10-4faa-9484-611B3014E610