Manchester City Hall

Localis report urges more power for councils

A new report from independent think tank Localis, has argued that the government should give local councils greater financial powers to help them achieve levelling up and improve services.

In the report, Level Measures – a modern agenda for public service integration, the case is made that councils need to innovate and collaborate in order to address the gaps in capacity that are currently stopping them from meeting the government’s levelling up missions. Increased financial powers would also help the councils to marry the needs of everyday local services with the funding to help improve the outcomes of public services.

Localis ran seen regional roundtables with leaders of local councils around the country, this is helping to identify seven principles that would help a modern agenda of public service integration, with this being capable of delivering local service reform in a way that is sustainable. These seven principles are:

  • Reliable, consistent, and long-term funding
  • A holistic understanding of public services and their interconnected nature
  • Trust between levels and tiers of government
  • Deep internal insight into and understanding of performance data, shared across boundaries and between tiers.
  • External audit, which is based on outcomes, not outputs, considering the totality of local circumstances.
  • An integrated, systems-based approach to provision which focuses on upstream prevention and user outcomes.
  • Partnership frameworks based on long-term strategic goals which maximise local value.#
Front page of the report

In order for local councils to match the ambition of the government, when it comes to levelling up around the country, the report has recommended that devolution deals should include the provision for the funding of neighbourhood services, as well as the capacity of councils to coordinate across service lines. Other recommendations that were mentioned in the report include:

  • Clarification of the intended role and purpose of the Office for Local Government and broadening it to prevent an oversimplification of local governance. This would ensure that the role aligns with the even broader objectives of public service delivery, as well as levelling up missions.
  • Establishment of subregional centres, to allow for the collection and analysis of public service data. This will be used as a shared resource for councils across a greater geographic area to help lead improvement in local place-based services.
  • Training in civil service for policy professionals should include a core element that focuses on the form and function of local government.

Jonathan Werran, Localis Chief Executive, said:

“In Levelling Up, the clear linkage between performing the basics of neighbourhood services brilliantly and creating the conditions for strong communities from which to build the foundation of a strong local economy and a prosperous and unified nation has been a helpful flarepath.

“In the course of our research, which involved seven regional roundtables with local authority chief executives and senior directors, we heard an open and palpable desire from our place leaders to continue to innovate to deliver responsive neighbourhood services as the foundation of a prosperous places in all corners of the country.

“Allied to this is the pursuit of excellence in local government’s more adroit use of data analysis and its longstanding mature approach to partnership working across the private and voluntary sectors – as well as leveraging the early benefits of the Integrated Care Systems for population health.

“If public service reform is best served through place-based approaches, an effective neighbourhood public service integration platform offers the promise of more gain for less pain.”


Image credit: iStock

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