Once upon a time, over a century ago, our great municipal forefathers built the great cities of Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Birmingham and elsewhere from a foundation of local government strength, where Mayors and Council Leaders were respected alongside some of the nation’s leading figures. Times have changed, and while there is enormous cynicism about politics and politicians in general, few people would naturally assume that their local councillor is a powerful political figure, and local government in particular has suffered a decline in respect, participation and awareness. This is a great shame, not only because we desperately need to build up the strength of our neighbourhoods and cities to fight for attention from a strong central government, but also because local democracy matters.
The news that local authorities are well on course to achieve government targets for efficiency savings was announced with quiet satisfaction by ODPM at the beginning of August. Understandably so, when there has been a relatively smooth transition from announcement to delivery, particularly considering the trepidation within local government when it was announced that £6.45 billion of savings had to be achieved by 2007-08. This trepidation has been replaced by a renewed confidence in the ability of local authorities to meet and surpass central government efficiency requirements. Even more impressively, local authorities expect to exceed the required £1 billion in efficiency gains for the period 2005-06.
Anna Randle, Head of Policy, NLGN
Local Government Chronicle
Active citizenship is a key strand of current government thinking. The idea is as follows: multiple benefits can be achieved through citizens becoming more engaged and active in their communities, including the building of individual capacity, the strengthening of community cohesion and the improvement of local services and the fabric of the area.
Ian Parker, Head of Strategic Communications, NLGN PR Week London-locked as I tend to be these days, I was out of town during early July and missed at first hand both high and low of the Olympic vote and the bombings. Despite rolling news and regular phone contact, it felt pretty strange being 200 miles […]
Warren Hatter, Head of Research, NLGN Local Government Chronicle People take good public services for granted. And so they should. But this poses a problem for people in the policy world when we see investment rise and delivery improve, while polling-based levels of satisfaction with services stubbornly stay put or even decline. In these circumstances, […]
Natalie Tarry, Research Manager, NLGN Community Care The modernisation of social care services has recently received a boost through the Adult Social Care Green paper. With a focus on individualised budgets, the extension of direct payments, more emphasis on prevention, new technologies, local partnership working and new roles for care staff, the choice agenda in […]
Warren Hatter, Head of Research, NLGN First magazine Let’s face facts – two, to be precise. First, local authorities will have to earn their autonomy for the foreseeable future. We will make more progress by recognising this than by arguing for a new constitutional settlement to give local government sovereignty as of right. Second, ministers […]
Warren Hatter, Head of Research, NLGN Public Servant An Englishman’s home, so they say, is his castle. One problem for local government is that so many local authority services are housed in ageing premises so unsuited to modern service delivery that they might as well be medieval castles. I am exaggerating, of course. But we […]