The Labour Party’s Local Government Innovation Task Force has written a report that aims to redesign the way our public services operate.

This report prioritises 3 main outcomes: to end top down domination of local Government by National Government; devolution of power from Westminster to local people; and dealing with problems as and when they occur, taking a “prevention is better than cure” approach.

In their 60-page document the task force outlines 5 main pledges, these are:

  1. To provide everyone with the care they require –the task force has suggested bringing together local public services to work collaboratively, under Health and Wellbeing Boards, to avoid disjointed services and to oversee ‘whole person care’.
  1. Every young person to have the chance for a decent job – the task force has suggested founding a new employment service, a ‘Youth Transitions Service’, to provide careers advice to help young people to enter and progress in the job market.
  1. Increase in community safety and a reduction in crime – the task force has suggested replacing PCCs with localised police boards, which they claim will be more responsive to local concerns. The task force also suggests extending the Youth Offending Team’s jurisdiction to young adults (ages 18-20), smoothing transitional periods between youth and young adult offenders.
  1. Help excluded families to overcome challenges for good – The task force has suggested a promise of £1.5billion for local government to support sustainable outcomes for the excluded families. It is claimed that this will empower local services to stage effective interventions but it is extremely vague.
  1. Giving every child the support they need in life – The task force has suggested placing SureStart centre at the centre of a community, where local authorities broker childcare deals and parents and children can access parental advice from professionals.

These issues will take a lot of work to address. For me the biggest challenge lies with local Councillors. Will Labour be able to incentivise Councillors to step up the challenge and consult their residents? The report is especially vague around point 4, it’s not yet clear how councils would be expected to use the £1.5billion that Labour are promising to tackle “excluded families”.

Moreover, we have heard these promises of more localism before. The Conservative Party introduced the Academies Bill with the promise of local people being able to set up their own schools, – positive for localism in one way, but (with free schools being a central rather than local responsibility) a reduction of local government power too. My fear is that the long-term tendency to domination by Central Government may prevent these kind of promises from becoming reality.

 

The report can be found here.

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