This prospectus from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister sets out proposals to pilot Local Area Agreements as part of the Government’s ten year strategy to build a new relationship between central and local government. The Agreements are presented as a new radical way of working through Local Strategic Partnerships to build a more flexible and responsive relationship between central government and a locality on the priority outcomes that need to be achieved at local level. It is acknowledged that building new relationships will require a significant shift in the way central and local government relate to each other and to other local partners.The expectation is that Local Area Agreements will provide a mechanism to join up the delivery of local public services under one umbrella. They are designed to tackle the problems caused by a myriad of separate pots of funding from various Whitehall departments being channelled to different public bodies serving the same local populations. Councils will take the lead in setting up Agreements, and work in partnership with other public bodies in the area to join up spending and services in a flexible way that meets local needs, rather than Whitehall-led requirements.
The Agreements will be structured around three key themes: children and young people; safer and stronger communities; and health and older people. Councils and their partners will negotiate clear targets and outcomes for these areas with central government, but will have the freedom to decide how best to achieve them.
Whilst the Agreements initially will cover only a small proportion of spending, the ambition is to show that delivery of public services will be more efficient and responsive if it is joined up under one local democratically accountable banner, with the flexibility to spend public money in a way that suits local need.
Although the prospectus envisages the Agreements being piloted in nine councils, twenty one councils have been selected to pilot the new development.