Editor's Comment

19.10.16

Clarity still needed on direction of travel

Source: PSE Oct/Nov 16

As the party conference season came to a close, the sector still wasn’t any clearer on the direction of travel for devolution and local government reform. 

Instead, like last year, it appears that the chancellor’s Autumn Statement in November is likely to be the pulpit from which some clarity will hopefully be delivered. 

Although both the chancellor, Philip Hammond, and communities secretary, Sajid Javid, guaranteed that the government was “continuing with its ambitious devolution agenda”, there was very little substance to take away from Birmingham.

However, Hammond did say that Theresa May’s administration was working with the West Midlands Combined Authority on a second devolution deal to include new powers on transport, criminal justice, data, planning and skills. 

Other than the announcement that Article 50 will be triggered before March next year, the Conservative Party Conference was, unfortunately, underwhelming, with soundbites being delivered as opposed to substance. 

This edition of PSE, unlike the party conferences, does aim to provide some support and advice with regards to public sector reform, with the National Audit Office discussing how value for money should be assessed in devolution deals , and the New Local Government Network looking at the issue of place-based accountability. 

Other areas that this issue covers include social work, housing, transport and the environment. There is a very interesting article on how Rotherham Council, alongside the government-appointed commissioners, is attempting to turn around the culture at the local authority. We also have former ADASS president, David Pearson, explaining the importance of having social care integrated with the NHS-led sustainability and transformation plans. 

Also worthy of a mention is the contribution from the Carbon Trust’s Tanja Groth who explains why the organisation has launched a District Heating Cashflow Quality Assurance Template to assist public sector bodies in their investment decision-making. 

While the party conference season’s agenda didn’t set off any major fireworks, I hope that this edition of PSE at least provides some thought-provoking content ahead of the chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

David Stevenson

Editor

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