Headlines: July 4th, 2005

The expansion of Local Area Agreements is a priceless opportunity to put local
communities in the ‘driving seat’, according to the think-tank the Local
Government Information Unit. The body believes the agreements will redefine the
relationship between councils and central government.

The LGIU’s welcome follows news that 66 more local authorities are to join the
first 20 in which Local Area Agreements were signed by the Deputy Prime Minister
in March. Those have brought together more than 100 different funding streams,
pooling 800 million pounds in government funding.

The Agreements also mean the authorities that participate have to report on many
fewer centrally-set targets. The system of LAAs will be rolled out in all ‘top
tier’ local authorities by 2007.

The chair of LGIU, Councillor Dave Wilcox, said the expansion of the agreements
between now and 2007 would provide a priceless opportunity to put local
communities in the driving seat and to redefine the relationship between
neighbourhoods, councils and central government.

The LGIU is urging every local authority to think as creatively as possible
about the potential of LAAs as a means of pooling budgets between different
service providers, cutting superfluous central targets and improving local

Councillor Wilcox said that if the possibilities of the Local Agreements was
grasped by both central and local government, and combined with reforms in local
government finance and other areas that the LGIU has advocated, the full
potential of the agreements as a means of promoting local priorities could be