Headlines: November 14th, 1997

The lead role in the New Deal for eight new areas has been given to private sector organisations. The Local Government Association has protested to the Government at the way in which the decision was taken without consultation with other partner organisations at local level. There was particular disappointment because councils in the areas concerned have a good track record of partnership working on welfare to work issues.Sir John Harman, chair of the LGA’s urban commission commented: “Local government has proved that the partnership approach can work in delivering key elements of the New Deal and it is bitterly disappointing for local partnerships with a good track record to be sidelined in this way, especially without prior notice of what was afoot. At the very least local partnerships should be able to bid for the lead role on a level playing field with the private sector. We have stressed to ministers that we do not object to private sector leadership but that we think decisions about who should lead should be made locally by the local partnerships, not by central direction.”

The employment minister Andrew Smith was told by the LGA that the New Deal will only succeed in a way in which previous initiatives have not if all the relevant players have ownership of it at local level through effective partnerships and freedom to make key decisions such as this.