Headlines: September 17th, 1999

The Audit Commission has criticised local councils for their poor
performance in creating new jobs. The latest report from the Commission: A
Life’s Work: Local Authorities, Economic Development and Economic
Regeneration, highlights a number of weaknesses. They include failure to
consult jobseekers and employers, insufficient collaboration with other
bodies and inadequate monitoring of the annual 322 million pound spend on
promoting economic development.

The failure to collaborate results in fragmentation and duplication of
effort to foster economic development and regeneration. Most authorities
strive to attract inward investment but their promotional campaigns often
overlap with those of regional and national agencies, without any guarantee
that local people will benefit.The report recommends that wasteful
competition between different agencies and tiers of government should be
reduced by clarifying lead responsibilities and integrating services.

There is criticism of the target setting and evaluation process. Many
targets are described as ‘vauge’. Over half the councils do not look more
than 2 years ahead.

The timing of the report is important because the Government is proposing
to give local councils a new duty to promote economic, social and
environmental well-being.