Reads like a breath of fresh air - but will the puppet strings really be cut, or is there an alternative performance management scheme lurking in the shadows? Taken at face value this sounds like an excellent (and brave?) move by the coalition, and gives local authorities some freedom and incentive to innovate. Will be interesting to see what is in the Localism Bill when it comes before Parliament, and what the 'General Power of Competence' actually means in practice. Call me gullible if you want, but this all looks very positive IMHO.
The full text of Eric Pickles' speach can be found at:
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles today announced the
abolition of the 152 Local Area Agreements.
LAAs were introduced in 2004 by the Labour administration.
They allowed councils with their local partners to define their own priorities
and select 35 of the most appropriate targets from a set of national
But Pickles criticised the bureaucracy surrounding this
system. ‘There are 66 pages of guidance telling councils how to report on
national indicators,’ he told council leaders and local government
professionals at Hammersmith and Fulham town hall this morning.
‘So today I am scrapping the existing Local Area Agreements.
Instead of national indicators, I promise you that we will only require one set
of data from you.
‘Instead of inspections, we are going to give councils want
they want – freedom and power – to be able to take your own decisions on
housing and planning. That is the foundation of the Localism Bill, which will
be unveiled in a few weeks. Councils will be able to organise themselves, and do
whatever they want through a General Power of Competence.’
He also said that next week’s Comprehensive Spending Review
would streamline the sources of funding given to councils.
‘We counted 58 funding streams for housing and regeneration
and 80 agencies involved in economic growth in their area. By the time the money is coming, the
forms have been filled in and the conditions have been satisfied, there is
always going to be less money. Where is the incentive to be efficient or
imaginative, what is the point of listening to local residents, as opposed to
Pickles added that he did not want to be an ‘overbearing
parent, handing out pocket money and telling you how it should be spent’. He
said the Spending Review would bring down the ‘artificial barriers’ that
dictate what money should be spent on.
‘We are going to put as much money as possible into just oneRead more at www.publicfinance.co.uk
cheque for councils to work out for themselves how to spend it. But this brings
responsibility to protect frontline services, to commission really effective
and productive services,’ he added.