Independent think-tank, the New Local Government Network (NLGN) is calling upon the Government to take “a leap of faith” in its moves to decentralise power to local authorities in the UK and to establish a new culture of local and regional democracy.
A new pamphlet, New Localism: refashioning the centre-local relationship – by Dan Corry and Professor Gerry Stoker – welcomes a recent shift in Government thinking that has seen ‘command and control’ techniques replaced by ‘steering centralism’ but stresses that the Government needs to go further and embrace a “genuine new localism”:
“In terms of delivery, there is a need to spread capacity, responsibility and accountability more widely if our governing system is to have a better future. Central government should take its share of the burden but it should not try to carry it all. The answer lies in a combination of managerial and political decentralisation”.
One figure within Government who has become closely identified with new localism is Ed Balls, Chief Economic Advisor to the Treasury. In a foreword to the NLGN pamphlet, Mr. Balls writes:
“In today’s complex world, it is simply not possible to run economic policy or deliver strong public services using the old, top-down, one-size fits all solutions. Excessive centralisation saps morale at local level. It destroys innovation and experimentation. It fails to allow different policy areas that must in fact be interconnected to be joined up”.
And commenting specifically on developments within UK Government policy, adds:
“We are devolving power to those best placed to make decisions to deliver agreed goals and standards. But we have to be careful to strike a balance, particularly in public services such as health and education, between encouraging local flexibility and rewarding success on the one hand and our firm commitment to tackling inequalities in provision and preventing two-tierism in public service delivery”.
Looking at the long-term consequences, Corry and Stoker conclude:
“If New Labour is to have a legacy it should be the establishment of a new culture of local and regional democracy, which in turn may refashion centre-local relations. Better to do this than be remembered simply as competent managers of a system of government that could no longer meet the demands of the 21st century”.
All media enquiries to Ian Parker – 020 7357 0116
NLGN is an independent think-tank, seeking to transform public services, revitalise local political leadership and empower local communities.
New Localism: refashioning the centre-local relationship by Dan Corry, Executive Director, NLGN and Professor Gerry Stoker, Chair NLGN is being launched with Ed Balls, Chief Economic Advisor to the Treasury on Thursday 10 October at The Counsel Room, One Great George Street, London SW1.
Copies of New Localism: refashioning the centre-local relationship are available from York Publishing Services Ltd. £10.00 (£1.25 p&p) Tel: 01904 431213. Fax: 01904 430868. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org