Book News: July 21st, 2004

This independent review identifies the need for greater focus and understanding by the Agency of its objectives and work. It urges the IDeA to seize the rapidly changing improvement agenda; lead local authorities in responding to that agenda; and steer the sector through the maze of solutions and support on offer. The review acknowledges the challenging working environment of the last five years and highlights the IDeA’s valuable existing and future role as an independent agency accountable to local government through the LGA. However, there are still some key stakeholders, including some in local government, who are not yet convinced that the Agency is providing real added value to the sector and work still remains for the I&DeA to respond to these concerns.There is some confusion about the I&DeA’s core purpose. There would appear to be a consensus, both outside of and within the Agency that now is an appropriate time to take stock of its successes and strengths and to consolidate its current standing. There is also agreement that it needs greater focus to the services that it offers. Many stakeholders felt that the I&DeA was not communicating clearly about their respective roles and offerings. Some felt that the plethora of glossy publications that were distributed to councils on a regular basis were in many cases not relevant to the audiences they were aimed at, and that there was too much information circulated which led to much of it remaining unread. This was particularly true for elected members.

There was almost universal agreement that the I&DeA was not the only ‘improvement partner’ in town. There is a wide range of other organisations, public, private, academic and voluntary, that offer support, advice and services to local authorities. Many from local authorities expressed some confusion at the increasing number of players in the field claiming to be ‘improvement partners’, particularly on a regional basis.’Seize, Lead and Steer’ Report of the First Quinquennial Review of the Improvement & Development Agency for Local Government is available at: