An action plan setting out how the new vision for local government will be realized has been published by the Department for Transport Local Government and the Regions. It takes forward the proposals in the Local Government White Paper, published in December 2001, which aims to give local councils substantial new freedoms to respond to the needs of their local communities and establish a new partnership between central and local government.A number of actions in the plan relate to refining the overall management of local government. Concern about the excessive number of Best Value performance indicators has already led to a slimming down and the plan makes it clear that this process will be continued. Legislation will be introduced to give more flexibility on Best Value Plans and Reviews. Work on developing a system of comprehensive performance assessments will be carried forward. It is also proposed to reduce the work load of councils by cutting significantly the number of plans and strategies that currently need to be produced.
This is the first time that an overall plan for implementing reforms to local government has been produced. Publishing action plans is not new, the public service agreements and the NHS plan chart a whole range of activities. The difference with this plan is that the name of an official is put against each target. This takes accountability to a new height.
The plan also reveals how joined up government is working at the top official level. Implementation of the plan is being managed by a project group made up of officials from across Whitehall. The group has representatives from the No 10 Policy Unit, the Office of Public Service Reform, Treasury, DfES, Department of Health, Department of Work and Pensions, Home Office, DEFRA, DCMS and the Regional Co-ordination unit.