Headlines: June 25th, 2001

Some 90 councils are being encouraged to sign up to local public service agreements with a promise of funds to invest in local services. Each council that agrees to focuses on about 12 key outcomes which reflect a mix of national and local priorities will be eligible for investment funding up to 2 m pounds. They will be able to use the money to support targets such as better schools, better care for older people or crime reduction. This roll out of local public service agreements follows a successful pilot earlier in the year when agreements were signed with 20 councils.This second wave of councils that sign up will also escape the rigid prescription of central government initiatives. Rules and regulations that get in the way of better performance will be removed and they will no longer need to produce some statutory plans. They will also benefit from a performance reward fund if they achieve the agreed targets.

Local public service agreements are part of the Government’s strategy to move decision making for all public services from Whitehall down to the front line. In education, governors and head teachers are to be given greater freedom to run schools. Three quarters of NHS spending power is to be delegated to primary care trusts managed by boards of local health professionals.