Central-local relations and trust

12 Jun 2009 by Karl Hallam

The new Communities and Local Government Secretary John Denham has pledged to 're-examine the relationship between central and local government as part of the Government's drive to renew Britain's democracy and restore trust in the political system at every level'.

The goverment say they want the debate 'to focus on citizens not institutions and is committed to strengthen ways in which local people can shape their communities and improve public services'.

This is obviously part of the response to recent turmoil in Westminster, but is interesting in the context of the ongoing thinking about public service reform, front line innovation and co-design that Cadence has looked at for the Whitehall Innovation Hub and ippr recently. The press release provides the following examples of them walking the walk:

given councils greater financial flexibility by removing spending strings from billions of pounds funding meaning they are free to spend this as they see fit meeting the needs of their communities; and giving them the freedom and responsibility to decide for themselves how much (and where) to borrow and invest funds.

* through Local Area Agreements reshaped the landscape in which councils operate - freeing them up to work with other local partners to better meet the needs of local communities.

* announced two City-Region pilots which will give new powers to Greater Manchester and Leeds to 'unleash and unlock' new economic growth- real strategic powers handed down from Central Government so they can decide how best to increase more jobs, skills, housing and better infrastructure, in a way that reflects local economies and helps them to move beyond the downturn.

* signed ten Multi-Area Agreements between neighbouring councils that have ensured that national policy is tailored to what is needed locally in areas covering employment, skills, transport, regeneration, housing and planning. A further wave of MAAs will be signed shortly.

* announced plans for a new fund to encourage the setting up of at least 20 new young mayors across the country; published a new strategy for participatory budgeting, so more people have a say on how public money is spent; and launched a new Asset Transfer Unit, to support councils and other public bodies to transfer more buildings into community ownership.

More on cadence's work and views on innovation.






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