Headlines: March 19th, 2009

Public bodies have been given a list of words to avoid if they want to communicate effectively with local people.

The Local Government Association list, which has been sent to councils across the country, sets out 200 words and phrases that all public sector bodies should avoid when talking to people about the work they do and the services they provide.

They include taxonomy, re-baselining, mainstreaming, holistic governance, contestability and ‘predictors of beaconicity’.

The initiative is designed to make the work of the often poorly-understood public services more accessible. Chairman of the Local Government Association, Cllr Margaret Eaton, said: “The public sector must not hide behind impenetrable jargon and phrases. Why do we have to have ‘coterminous, stakeholder engagement’ when we could just ‘talk to people’ instead?

“During the recession, it is vital that we explain to people in plain English how to get access to the eight hundred different services that local government provides with taxpayers’ money.

“Councils have a duty, not only to provide value for money to local people, but also to tell people what they get for the tax they pay.”

Alongside the ‘banned’ list, some clearer alternatives have been offered. For ‘across-the-piece’ – ‘everyone working together’ is suggested.

Actioned – do
Autonomous – independent
Baseline – starting point
Benchmarking – measuring
Bottom-Up – listening to people
Citizen empowerment – people power
Community engagement – getting people involved
Core developments – main things that are happening
Coterminosity – all singing from the same hymn sheet
Cross-cutting – everyone working together
Cross-fertilisation – spreading ideas
Democratic legitimacy – voted in
Distorts spending priorities – ignores people’s needs
Fast-Track – speed up
Holistic – taken in the round
Income Streams – money
Initiative – idea
Interface – talking to each other
Leverage – influence
Meaningful consultation- talking to people
Place shaping – creating places where people can thrive
Potentialities – chances
Rationalisation – cut
Seedbed – idea
Shared priority – all working together
Transformational – change
Wellbeing – healthy
Worklessness – unemployed