Book News: August 9th, 2007

Positive views were expressed at the road shows about the idea of a more mature conversation on performance and targets. LAAs are acting as catalysts for change, particularly in strengthening and improving partnership working. However, some participants were sceptical about the promised reduction in the reporting burden actually materialising.There was strong sense from participants that LAAs have been seen as a marginal within local authorities and by some partners. As a result, levels of involvement of some key partners are still variable. There was concern about the extra work negotiating new LAAs would cause and the impact on their relationships with their partners. Negotiating the LAA had put a strain on some Local Strategic Partnerships which did not have sufficiently robust governance or performance management arrangements.

The lack of involvement of some key partners, such as the Highways Agency and Job Centre Plus was also noted. It was felt that there is a need to clarify the connection between the LAA and other key strategic documents and also to find new ways of involving agencies which are not currently actively involved.

Views were expressed that a clear steer from central government departments to local agencies to cooperate would be more effective than simply imposing the duty to cooperate. There was also a call for central government departments to align their expectations of local agencies because the separate demands they make work against a focus on delivering local priorities in partnership.

Governance and scrutiny were raised as issues of concern. Few local authorities have effective scrutiny arrangements in place for LAAs, though many do use their health overview and scrutiny committees to scrutinise delivery and performance of the health block. Clear guidance on how scrutiny should be organised would be welcomed. Members and other participants reported that, in general, members have not been sufficiently involved in the development of LAAs. This makes it harder for scrutiny members to be sufficiently well informed to be able to fulfill their scrutiny role.

The report is available at: