Headlines: March 16th, 1998

A task group looking at how the LGMB relates to the Local Government Association has produced proposals for scrapping the Board. When the LGA was launched in April 1997 as the successor to the separate local authority organisations it changed the dynamics of the local government scene which involves 2 million staff with a pay bill of £34b and some 22,000 elected councillors . Before this change, the LGMB was the sole ‘representative body’ for councils with across the board funding and governance. The LGMB has an £18m budget and 250 staff and when it was formed in 1991 there was little choice in giving functions such as: employee relations; management practice and policy related programmes to the Board. Now the LGA speaks with a single voice for all councils and has a responsibility for policy and management issues.The review task group has produced a consultation paper with options for reallocating the responsibilities. They believe it will be possible to deliver more for the same budget. None of the options envisage retaining the LGMB. The thrust of the paper is that where there is overlap between the Board and the LGA, those responsibilities should be transferred to the latter. The residual work of training and development and employee relations would be carried out by an arms length agency. A further option is to have a separate agency for employee relations.

The review started in September 1997 and councils have been given until 17 April 1998 to respond. The tight timetable is necessary because all decisions must be taken by October 1998 so they can be reflected in the 1999/20 budget. Current planning provides for implementation to be completed by April 1999. Doubts have been raised about the realism of the implementation target date.