Working Characterising Central Local Government Relationships Since 97


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Working Characterising Central Local Government Relationships Since 97

  1. 1. Characterising Central-Local Government relations since 1997
  2. 2. A Framework for Analysis • Ideological / Managerial • Tempestuous / Harmonious • Clarity & Consistency / Confusion • Effective Change / Process
  3. 3. Pre 1997 • Repeated structural reform ‘pre’ and ‘post’ Maud Commission • Cyclical economic and social distress; urban riots, poll tax riots, spending cuts, public sector strikes • Ideologically driven divisive relationships e.g. GLA, Livingston, Hatton, Sheffield, Ridley, widespread capping • Rapid centralisation to central government • Forced outward transfer of functions / power often highly contested e.g. Compulsory Competitive Tendering, UBR, UDCs, EZs, SRB, City Challenge, Right to Buy, Water Supply, growth of the ‘Quango State’ • Northern and Midland cities perceived as ‘problems’ • Central = Conservative Local = Labour
  4. 4. The Government and the LGA have agreed that the framework should: •promote effective local democracy, with strong and accountable political leadership; •support continuous improvement in the quality of local government services, •increase the discretion and local accountability of local authorities on expenditure and revenue raising matters; •enable and encourage local authorities to modernise and revitalise their structures and working practices; • provide for services and decision making affecting local communities to be undertaken at the level which is closest to the people and area to be served; and •uphold standards of conduct in public life A Framework for Partnership (1997)
  5. 5. Post ‘97 • Leadership; Armstrong, Miliband, Kelly, Blears and Denham; Elected Mayors, Beacon Councils, Cabinets, Scrutiny • Organisational; DoE, DETR, DTLR, ODPM, DCLG and CLG • Legislative; Main Acts of ‘99, ‘00, ‘03, ‘07, ‘09 • Geography; Regional, Core Cities, City Regions (1 & 2), Sub Regions, ‘Neighbouring Authorities’ and boundary reform • Tools; Best Value, LPSA, Lyons Review, CPA, CAA, LAAs, MAAs, Prudential Borrowing, LABGI, Supplementary Business Rates, CDCs, EPBs, Area Based Grant, ADZs, JSNA, Capping
  6. 6. Case Study: Area Based Grants • Over £4.8 billion from approx 40 former specific grants from DCSF, DfT, DEFRA, Communities & Local Government, Home Office, DWP • Allocated on a three year basis according to specific policy priorities rather than general formulae • ‘Local authorities are free to use all of their non-ring fenced funding as they see fit’ • ‘There is no expectation that local authorities will use the funding to support the objectives of the former specific grants’ • ‘No restrictions on ability to carry forward into next financial year’ • A role for Local Strategic Partnerships in shaping mainstream Council provision
  7. 7. Case Study: Area Based Grants • What impacts on and re-action from other central departments? e.g. Department of Transport • What impacts on and reaction from local services e.g. adult social care, teenage pregnancy etc • Specific allocations from former specific grants still identified in funding table • No capital included despite importance of ‘place’ • No requirement to spend on LAA targets? • Perverse incentive; more deprivation brings more cash • Specific indications already given by central government e.g. Working Neighbourhoods Fund of £10.294m in Newcastle in FY10/11 from total of £40.8m (CLG = £27.28m)
  8. 8. Case Study: Local Area Agreements • Statutory (but MAAs are voluntary) • “Set out the priorities for a local area agreed between central government and a local area (the local authority and Local Strategic Partnership) and other key partners at the local level”. • “Simplify some central funding, help join up public services more effectively and allow greater flexibility for local solutions to local circumstances” • “Through these means, LAAs are helping to devolve decision making, move away from a 'Whitehall knows best' philosophy and reduce bureaucracy” • No more than 35 negotiated (designated) alongside 16 statutory education and early years targets. • A single annual performance review
  9. 9. Case Study: Local Area Agreements • Only 51 indicators! Why measure remainder of 198 if they are not important? Many indicators simply not readily available at local level. • Full freedom to choose the 35 indicators? • How assess propensity to improve performance? Performance often indicative of structural, cyclical and macro / national or city-region conditions … not likely to improve on an annual basis …and not necessarily of actions of local government and other agencies • What real relationship between LAAs and MAAs? • Do all places want growth? • What relationship between leadership role of local authorities and Local Strategic Partnership (with increasingly emphasised role of agencies of central government) • A mechanical / mathematical system of performance management offering a massive 0.54% ‘reward’ on 100% completion.
  10. 10. Post ’97: A Commentary • Real opportunity of historically benign fiscal environment • Unusually ‘polite’ debate between central and local government (central = Labour local = Conservative) • Greatest focus on outcomes or on process? • Post recession expansion e.g. post offices, TV stations, mortgages, loans, house building, land / property purchases, statutory duty on local economic assessments etc • Understanding the perspectives of central government e.g. 39% real growth in expenditure, Section 2, power to trade & charge, Prudential Borrowing, Area Based Grant, ability to make byelaws, and what specific additional ‘freedoms and flexibilities’?
  11. 11. Ongoing Fundamental Challenges • Relative priorities, assessing political gain and pain? • Legal uncertainties within a constitutional vacuum; how to clarify the power of ‘well being’ or of ‘general competence’ • Leadership / Accountability vs. ‘Gearing’ and new Transparency of Technology • Democratic community leadership or one partner amongst many? What potential of ‘Total Place’ to overcome the power of other centralist departments • Variable functional geographies vs. practically fixed administrative boundaries; and persistent ‘intra’ and ‘inter’ local and regional disparities • Universal service provision vs. ‘post code lottery’ or the ‘easyjet’ model? • Historically rapid and unrecognised demographic shift • Building democratic legitimacy
  12. 12. ‘We want to generate vibrant local democracy in every part of the county, and to give real control over local decisions and services to a wider pool of active citizens. We want to shift power, influence and responsibility away from existing centres of power into the hands of communities and individual citizens’. ‘UK Government (2008) White Paper: Communities in control, Real people, real power'
  13. 13. ‘By giving power and financial incentives to local authorities to foster growth, we can start to move towards a national economy that is built from strong, vibrant, local economies – an economy that is far less vulnerable to global shocks or the failures of a few dominant industries. By giving people more power and control over the services that are delivered in their areas, we can inspire a new spirit of civic pride in our communities. It’s simple psychology – when people know their actions can make a real difference they are far more motivated to get involved’. ‘Conservative Party (2009) Control Shift: Returning Power to Local Communities’
  14. 14. Local Government elections: June ‘09