Magazine article Public Finance

Blears Launches a 'New Era' of LAAs

Magazine article Public Finance

Blears Launches a 'New Era' of LAAs

Article excerpt

New streamlined performance indicators for town halls mark a 'major cultural shift' in the way councils are measured and in their relationship with Whitehall, the communities and local government secretary has said.

Talking to Public Finance at the official launch of the slimmed-down Local Area Agreements, which include 35 priority areas, Hazel Blears said: 'It is significantly different from the agreements that we've had before. It's now got statutory backing and I think it's the first time we've got alignment of targets, alignment of inspection [and] alignment of budgets.'

She said the agreements marked a 'major cultural shift in the way [councils] will be measured' and a change of attitude within Whitehall departments, such as the Department for Children, Schools and Families, which were 'realising you can't just dictate from the centre'. She added: 'You have to channel people's energy from the sharp end.'

Describing the negotiations between central and local government on priorities as 'big devolution', she indicated that the success of LAAs over the next three years could determine whether there would be further devolution of responsibility.

The launch of the finalised LAA priorities took place at the Connexions centre in Lewisham High Street, in south London, on June 30, where Blears met young people who had been part of the Lewisham mayor's traineeship programme. …

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