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Councils praise General Power of Competence – but still feel restricted

Local government will showcase best practice from councils successfully using the General Power of Competence (GPC) today.

A joint event run by the LGA and the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) will focus on how the GPC could be improved, and launch the new report ‘Empowering councils to make a difference’. Communities’ secretary Eric Pickles will attend.

Case studies include councils who have used the GPC to improve primary school performance, establish funds to provide loan finance to local businesses and to set up mortgage schemes for local housing markets.

The LGA will highlight restrictions on trading, and charging and legal restrictions as barriers to wider use of the GPC.

Sir Merrick said: “The GPC is giving councils greater freedom and confidence to think outside the box, be innovative and develop new services and partnerships. This is having a significant impact in the communities where it is being used and we are encouraging all councils up and down the country to look into how they could use it to best effect.

“Although it has only been in place for a short time we have seen what councils can do when they are given the trust and power to make a real difference. This is vital if we are going to be able to rewire and redesign more efficient public services and help local areas promote growth.

“What is needed is this devolution of decision making and power to local areas to get government agencies, councils, the police, head teachers and health professionals working together to design services that work for their communities. This will ultimately save money and lead to better services.

“However, despite the impressive examples of GPC use to be outlined at our popular and full event, it remains limited by constraints set by central government. Easing those restrictions would certainly help encourage others to unlocking the potential of using it.”

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