Headlines: March 5th, 2010

A group of MPs say today that the performance of the Department for Communities and Local Government has suffered because of excessive rates of ministerial and staff turnover. Theirs is one of two reports this week that have concluded independently that major government departments have been affected because senior Ministers have not held their posts long enough to oversee the development and delivery of effective policy.

The cross-party Communities and Local Government Select Committee says that overall the Department’s performance and its ability to exert influence over fellow Whitehall departments, has improved but it has not yet become a ‘big hitter’. The findings are in line with those of the Transport Select Committee, which said there had been five Secretaries of State for Transport in as many years and called on future governments to provide greater stability.

Today’s annual report into the DCLG praises the progress the department has made but expresses frustration that no complete figures are available yet to show how well the Department is doing. It warns that a pattern of ‘leaving staff in post for an average of just nine months before moving them on to something new is not a sensible way to run an organisation’.

The committee chair, Doctor Phyllis Starkey said: “Our report acknowledges improvements in CLG’s performance and influence over the past year. However, the Department has yet to become the kind of ‘big hitter’ it needs to be within Whitehall and we have yet to see consistent and sustained evidence that the Department possesses the full range of skills required for the effective formulation and delivery of the policies for which it is responsible.”