Headlines: July 28th, 2004

Local Area Agreements are being piloted as part of the Government’s 10 year strategy to build a new relationship between central and local government, based on mutual trust and responsibility. Local Area Agreements represent a radical new approach to improve co-ordination between central government and local authorities and their partners, working through the Local Strategic Partnership.

The Agreements will focus on a range of agreed outcomes that are shared by all the delivery partners locally and which they all agree to work towards achieving. They will simplify the number of additional funding streams from central government going into an area, help to join up public services more
effectively and allow greater flexibility for local solutions for particular local circumstances. It is claimed that the Agreements will help devolve decision making, moving away from a ‘Whitehall knows best’ philosophy and at the same time reduce bureaucracy. This should allow efficiency gains and a greater
proportion of public servants to be directly involved in front line delivery in every region of the country.

Central government will continue to set high level strategic priorities and targets. But they will allow local authorities and their partners to decide jointly which local priorities best reflect local circumstances, while still contributing to the achievement of national targets. The Agreements will require central government departments to be more willing to let go of detailed day-to-day control of their programmes.

The key elements that form the package include a simplified funding for safer and stronger communities, strengthened local public service agreements, strengthened national strategy for neighbourhood renewal, and a stronger role for Government regional offices.

The prospectus is available at: