Pay on a par with MPs is one of the key recommendations of a new study that tries to point the way to creating truly revitalised local government.The New Local Government Network, (NGLN) a left-leaning think tank, has spent nine months reviewing the Labour Government’s intentions in trying to modernise councils, and concludes that really useful local government will come from the following changes:a major IT push to help councils deliver services electronically’partnership contracts’ – a development on the idea of public service agreements – giving more emphasis on councils being driven by what local people say they wantstrong leadership by council leaders offered the same pension, pay and support as MPsa government department for devolution – whose job would be to limit initiatives and interventions from other central departmentsinvestment in those areas of local government which are still valued by the public but which have been underfunded.
The issue of pay and professionalising top political jobs in local government are given emphasis in a survey by another local government organisation, the Improvement and Development Association (IDeA), that worrying numbers of councillors are leaving public service. The most common reasons given for standing down were ‘competing work demands’ and ‘adverse effects on family life’.
The IDeA is calling on political parties to do more to encourage potential councillors by accommodating the needs of such volunteers.The NGLN study, Towards a
New Localism, is available for 10 pounds a copy.