Headlines: August 5th, 2010

The Coalition Government has set out the way forward for public services. The devolution of power, giving taxpayers the information to monitor performance and greater sharing of services are the main elements of the strategy.

The driving force is to decentralise power away from Whitehall and down to local people and communities. The Government will pursue a radical redistribution of power down to communities and people and plans will involve giving individuals, families and communities more control over their lives.

The effect will be a continuing focus on greater transparency and services will be personalised to the individual and to individual neighbourhoods. There will also be a drive to make councils more accountable to local people and give local communities control over housing, planning and other decisions. This in turn means that local authorities listen to their residents and deliver what is asked by them.

Greater efficiency to help towards reducing the budget deficit is a top priority. The focus of measuring the efficiency of councils will move from central targets to benchmarks and a comparison of where a councils stands in relation to the benchmark. As councils publish more performance and expenditure data online, taxpayers will be able to compare their authority’s performance against others and decide if they are getting good value for money.

Rather than continuing to re-structure with the creation of unitary authorities, there will be an emphasis on service-sharing across local government. Examples exist, with councils sharing management teams or back office services such as IT, payroll and human resources. And in front line services, such as building control and benefit services.