Book News: April 6th, 2005

This report, from the independent think tank the New Local Government Network, is based on a year-long study looking at the experience of 24 local authorities at the leading edge of partnership working in the UK. It calls on local government to embrace partnership working as the best way to meet new and emerging agendas in local service delivery, such as choice and personalisation, greater public engagement and community well-being.The key finding in the report is that partnerships come in many forms, with the private and voluntary sectors both having much to offer; as well as the real potential for councils to collaborate across traditional territorial divides. With the key to success being each council’s willingness to fit the right type of partnership in a pragmatic way that suits its specific needs. The report argues that councils should look at what is fit for purpose and use a mixed economy to modernise. One service may be delivered in partnership with the private sector, another with the voluntary sector or in collaboration with another council, and a third benefits from the new freedoms and flexibilities now available to some councils.

The report concludes with recommendations to help drive partnership working forward. Local and central government, along with private and voluntary sector partners, must work to create conditions for the benefits to be fully realised. In particular they must build the skills base and capacity required for robust partnerships, promote and sustain contestable markets in service delivery and address workforce issues, assuring a climate of quality staff delivering quality services regardless of the sector in which they work.

New Ways to Modernise is available from York Publishing Services price 26.25 pounds. E-mail: