Headlines: June 12th, 2001

Along with the winners and losers in the race for appointments in the new Government, there appear to be winners and losers in the search for more joined-up government.The Prime Minister has made a number of major changes to the machinery of government as part of his re-shuffle of ministers. They are intended to sharpen delivery, specifically of improved public services.

Although some of the changes are said to have been resisted by senior civil servants and some ministers, many of the new slimmed down departments should be better able to focus on key tasks.

The slimmed down Home Office has relinquished some of its tasks to the Lord Chancellor’s Department, the DETR loses the ‘E’ of Environment and the ‘R’ of Regions.

Environment goes to Margaret Beckett, who said the new Department for Environment, Food andRural Affairs, which absorbs MAFF, would adopt a truly joined-up approach to all aspects of the environment.

The possible losers in the joining-up exercise, appear to regional and local issues. A new Department for Transport and Local Government is the main department. But the Regional Co-ordination Unit and the Government Offices in the Regions are with the Cabinet Office. The Department of Trade and Industry will take over the Regional Development Agencies and continue to oversee regional economic responsibilities.

Perhaps alive to the potential confusion, the Local Government Association has pledge to send 25 new ministers with responsibility for local government issues a series of proposals on how they can help improve local communities.

And the LGA has promised to seek a meeting with every new minister within his or her first month of office in order to discuss closer, more constructive working.

The proposals, ‘Ideas that Stand Out, Solutions that Work’, mix fresh thinking with innovative work already in place in some councils.