Headlines: August 1st, 2003

Local Public Service Agreements – the contracts established by central and local government aimed at improving the provision of local services – must be fully integrated within the wider improvement strategy of the local authority, according to a new report by the New Local Government Network and the Improvement and Development Agency – IDeA.The joint publication, “Improvement and the use of Local Public Service Agreements – lessons from Kent and Middlesbrough” draws on casework within two high-performing councils and examines how their LPSAs have been used to drive improvement. The two authorities are demographically different but the report finds both have succeeded in achieving real and sustained improvement for their communities.

The authors, Teresa Payne of the IDeA, and Anna Randle and Natalie Arend of NLGN, say both councils have embedded the agreement into their overall strategic approach. Middlesbrough focused on using regeneration initiatives to improve the quality of life in disadvantaged areas and Kent directed energy and resources into helping people overcome dependency. Kent also established ” Mini-LPSAs” in which the council and local partners and institutions, such as schools and the local fire brigade, have agreed delivery outcomes relating to different community needs.

The report is based on the continuing work of NLGN’s Innovation Network group of local authorities, and identifies different ways of thinking about innovation. It suggests a best practice template that includes a reduction in bureaucracy, customer focus, an honest and self- critical culture within the authority, and local leadership unafraid to take risks.

Seventy-five councils participated in the first round of LPSAs and a second round will follow this autumn.

Improvement and the use of Public Service Agreements – lessons from Kent and Middlesbrough by Teresa Payne, Anna Randle and Natalie Arend, is available from NLGN, at network@nlgn.org.uk.