Headlines: February 20th, 2003

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Local Government Association have unveiled a 27 million pound joint fund to help councils deliver continuous improvement in local services. The announcement is seen as underpinning the government’s commitment to providing support for officers and members in all councils to enable them to develop and strengthen their corporate capacity to deliver improvements to their communitiesThe scheme includes incentives for high-performing local authorities to advise and support weaker councils, extra assistance for poor performing councils, the expansion of graduate recruitment and specific support to tackle recognised skills shortages.

The capacity building programme focuses on a number of key areas including peer support, to encourage excellent and good councils, public and private bodies, and academic organisations to work with poor and weak authorities to improve performance; client strengthening to help councils, including members, identify priorities; leadership and change management building on the IDeA’s existing ‘Leadership Academy’ by broadening the range of suppliers; recruitment and retention; a middle managers development programme and support for district councils with a pilot programme to examine the most successful means for providing support to district councils, following the Comprehensive Performance Assessment.

Greeting the announcement the LGA chairman, Sir Jeremy Beecham, said local councils were fully committed to making improvement happen.  The activities will be supported by a 27 million pound fund this year with 18 million coming from the ODPM and the additional 9 million coming from councils.