COUNCILS ‘TAKING OWNERSHIP OF IMPROVEMENT AGENDA’
Local authorities are taking ownership of the improvement agenda according to the Local Government Association, which is urging councils to prove that reducing red tape was the right decision to allow them to focus on what was important to local people. The LGA and the Improvement and Development Agency have launched a joint publication, “Developing the new performance framework for localities”.
Speaking at its launch, Councillor Sir Simon Milton, who chairs the LGA’s Improvement Board, said, “Our sector recognises what works for improvement and has taken ownership of the agenda, including dealing with poor performance. There is no doubt that the new arrangements should lead to even better service delivery, value for money and an ever better deal for the taxpayer”.
He said a new approach to inspection and regulation was approaching and he wanted local councils to seize that agenda, too. Local Government, he said, had argued for a range of targets, indicators and assessment regimes to be abolished and the Government had listened. Now the Local Government Bill outlined the growing confidence in councils and the belief that delivery of services to local people worked best at local level, he said.
The LGA said that the new publication was a signal of local government’s commitment to tackling underperformance. It includes a new protocol on sector-led intervention and it sets out a number of ‘next steps’, including achieving a national set of about 200 performance indicators, rather that the more than 1000 that exist now, to be in place for the next round of Local Area Agreements in 2008. It also wants the sector to work with the Treasury and other departments so new indicators reflect local circumstances and the development of a robust locality approach to assessment to provide a starting point for the new performance framework. The document also calls on Government to realise the importance of a sector-led approach to dealing with poor performance in the first instance should it ever arise.