Latest Public Sector News

03.07.13

Cut bureaucracy by merging Whitehall - LGA

The LGA has launched a ten-point plan for ‘rewiring public services’, with radical devolution and localisation at its heart. Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the LGA, announced the plan in his keynote speech at the annual conference yesterday. The report sets out guidance to improve services whilst saving money in the face of further budget cuts outlined in the Spending Review.

Recommendations include merging six government departments to form a single ‘England’ office to reduce barriers to more efficient working.

The Barnett formula for calculating the proportion of cuts borne by Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, should be replaced by a needs-based formula, the LGA states.

Sir Merrick said: "We are currently trying to tackle 21 century problems with an outdated Victorian-era bureaucracy. This is costing us money and reducing the overall quality of the services people receive.

"To save the amounts of money austerity requires we must reduce demands on high cost institutions like hospitals, prisons and the welfare system. Government must support the services which generate local growth and jobs, help the elderly stay independent longer, and ensure children are ready to learn when they go to school.

"This cannot be achieved through national programmes. What is needed is the devolution of decision making 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."

PSE will report back on the conference in the July/August edition of the magazine, and you can catch live updates by following us on Twitter at @psenews

The full list of LGA proposals is:

• Give people a meaningful vote on local tax and spending issues: a local treasury in every place.

• Cut red tape: bring local services and decisions together in one place.

• Reduce bureaucracy and Whitehall silos: merge six Government departments and create an England Office. The six departments that could be merged to form the English Office include the Department for Communities and Local Government, Department for Transport, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Department of Energy and Climate Change, Department for Culture, Media and Sport and relevant parts of the Home Office.

• Share money fairly across the UK by replacing the Barnett formula with a new needs-based funding model.

• Take financial distribution out of ministers hands and replace it with agreement across English local government.

• Strengthen local say by reducing ministers' powers to intervene in local decisions.

• End flawed, tick box inspections by bureaucrats: create local service user champions.

• Boost investment in infrastructure: create a thriving market in municipal bonds.

• A multi-year funding settlement tied to the life of a Parliament.

• Protect local democracy: give the local government settlement formal constitutional protection

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexeutive.com

Image c. Local Government Association

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