Government announces abolition of Local Area Agreements

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:

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/localgovernment/2010/10/pickles-scraps-laas-and-slams-islington-for-paying-invoices-twice-.html

Amplify’d from www.publicfinance.co.uk
PicklesPA

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles today announced theabolition 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 prioritiesand select 35 of the most appropriate targets from a set of nationalperformance indicators.

But Pickles criticised the bureaucracy surrounding thissystem. ‘There are 66 pages of guidance telling councils how to report onnational indicators,’ he told council leaders and local governmentprofessionals 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 setof data from you.

‘Instead of inspections, we are going to give councils wantthey want – freedom and power – to be able to take your own decisions onhousing and planning. That is the foundation of the Localism Bill, which willbe unveiled in a few weeks. Councils will be able to organise themselves, and dowhatever they want through a General Power of Competence.’

He also said that next week’s Comprehensive Spending Reviewwould streamline the sources of funding given to councils.

‘We counted 58 funding streams for housing and regenerationand 80 agencies involved in economic growth in their area.  By the time the money is coming, theforms have been filled in and the conditions have been satisfied, there isalways going to be less money. Where is the incentive to be efficient orimaginative, what is the point of listening to local residents, as opposed tocentral government?’

Pickles added that he did not want to be an ‘overbearingparent, handing out pocket money and telling you how it should be spent’. Hesaid the Spending Review would bring down the ‘artificial barriers’ thatdictate what money should be spent on.

‘We are going to put as much money as possible into just onecheque for councils to work out for themselves how to spend it. But this bringsresponsibility to protect frontline services, to commission really effectiveand productive services,’ he added.

Read more at www.publicfinance.co.uk

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