Magazine article Public Finance

Councils Promised More Freedom in Exchange for Working Together

Magazine article Public Finance

Councils Promised More Freedom in Exchange for Working Together

Article excerpt

The government has pledged increasing freedoms for local authorities that are willing to work together to improve their local economies, as councils from across England came to Westminster to sign the first Multi- Area Agreements.

Following the official launch of Local Area Agreements and the publishing of the Communities in control white paper this month, Communities and Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears reiterated her commitment to local devolution at the signing of seven MAAs on July 14.

The agreements, which take in district, county and unitary councils, have primarily set targets to improve local economies and to close the gap between best and worst performing areas.

Ministers said the agreements would give town halls more flexibility on using resources for housing, pilot transport schemes, skills and employment investment and increasing support for businesses.

In exchange, authorities would pledge to work in partnership, with each other and government agencies.

Local government minister John Healey told Public Finance: ? expect the agreements we are signing today to evolve. . . as [councils] are ready to broaden the scale of priorities they want to tackle. …

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