COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL
GOVERNMENT News Release (157) issued by The Government News Network
on 30 June 2008
TOP LOCAL PRIORITIES REVEALED TODAY *
The chosen priorities in every local area in England can be
viewed at: http://www.localpriorities.communities.gov.uk
The results of a comprehensive shake up of council targets and
priorities are published today.
The priorities - agreed in partnership with central government -
show the pattern of issues across England that councils will now
have to grapple with over the next three years.
Councils will now need to devote considerable energy - as many of
them already do - to ensuring their communities feel safer, that
tackling serious violence and anti-social behaviour is a major
priority, and that tackling unemployment and teenage pregnancy is
The results of a new YouGov poll reveal that people want areas to
prioritise the issue of community safety - 82 per cent of the
population selected this as among the most important jobs for councils.
To help them do this, the government has slashed the number of
local targets from over 100 to 35 to ensure a more rigorous focus
on what matters to local people. Councils must now devote
resources, time and effort towards them achieving them. Extra cash
will be available for the highest performing councils.
These new local targets - called Local Area Agreements (LAAs) -
have been produced in consultation with those at the sharp end of
providing services to the public - like the Police and Jobcentres.
Each locality has identified the specific priorities that will
most improve the quality of life for its residents that reflect
their own individual challenges and circumstances.
Alongside tackling crime, three-quarters of local areas have
prioritised getting unemployed young people into work or education
while more than two-thirds will focus on reducing teenage
pregnancy. Generating affordable homes and tackling childhood
obesity also feature among the top 10 priorities.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:
"This Government is making strong progress in tackling the
issues that people really care about, from cutting crime and
increasing opportunities for young people to creating a fairer,
more responsive NHS. But crucially we're making changes in
line with the needs and wishes of local people themselves. Nothing
demonstrates this more clearly than the commitment to Local Area
Agreements. These will drive up standards, respond to local
concerns, and help people hold their local council to account.
These agreements will make a real difference to people's
everyday lives and I congratulate all concerned."
Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for Communities and Local
"These new local priorities mean that councils and their
partners can concentrate their efforts on the specific needs of
the local people they serve. The prizes are enormous: better, more
locally relevant public services, a higher quality of life and
ultimately more prosperity in communities across the country.
"If knowledge is power, then this is more empowerment to
local people. They will be able to see exactly what local
government and service providers plan to do in their area, check
out how well they are doing, and ask questions if they have not
delivered. This means less red tape and more freedom for local
authorities to deliver what local people want.''
Progress will be tracked by independent auditors and results
published, so any need for improvement can be identified quickly
and local authorities and service providers can be held to account
by local people.
Local Government Association Chair, Sir Simon Milton, said:
"Despite a tough financial challenge, councils are tackling
issues most important to people - from dealing
crime to obesity to climate change to
"We have ambitious targets but we will rise to the challenge
council taxpayers see great results and are provided
with the best value for money. Less bureaucracy means more
dynamism to improve public services, our raison d'etre.
"Freeing up councils allows them to do what they do best -
what local people want them to do. Given the
freedom to innovate and
inspire, residents will see effective
and most importantly
cost-effective action by talented people
committed to producing results.
"Our absolute priority is to respond to what local people
are, after all, our bosses."
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:
"We recognise that a 'one size fits all' approach
does not give Local Authorities the flexibility to address local
concerns, that is why we have worked with local partners to ensure
these agreements address the issues that matter most to local people.
"We have made huge progress in tackling crime and
anti-social behaviour over the past ten years with overall crime
down by a third. Police and local agencies are committed to
working with local residents to make their areas safer places to
live and every area now has its own dedicated Neighbourhood
Policing Team. We have also slashed the number of targets for
police enabling them to focus on local priorities and reduce bureaucracy."
Neil Cleeveley, Director of Policy and Communications, the
National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA), said:
"Local area agreements have created the necessary climate
for stronger local partnership. This local partnership work is
vital to deliver services to local communities and in particular
to the most disadvantaged groups. NAVCA believes that a strong and
well networked third sector is vital to ensuring effective
community engagement, build social capital and civil renewal and
improve service delivery. Therefore it is important that the
sector is fully embedded in local partnership structures and
linked in to local area agreements.
"Voluntary and community organisations repeatedly face the
frustration of piecing together a patchwork of funding from a
variety of schemes and sources, which frequently operate different
timetables and criteria. Managing this situation can distract from
their true work of delivering vital innovative and user focussed
services. LAAs present an opportunity to tackle this problem by
opening up resources to the third sector as part of a coherent and
consistent local sustainable community strategy that can be
integrated into sub-regional and regional planning.
"Local third sector organisations have a key role in shaping
and delivering public services that meet the needs of the
communities. They therefore have a central part to play in local
Note to Editors
1. For more information about priorities in your area, please
The Department of Communities and Local Government has created the
micro-site so that the public - and journalists - can easily view
the priorities each Local Authority is working towards and the
progress they are making.
How to search
A full list of an area's priorities can be
viewed by clicking on "Local Priorities - an overview".
By viewing the map of England on-screen, users can then click on
the region they are interested in. From here, a drop-down menu
appears, listing all Local Authorities in the region. Users select
their local authority, then click on "view priorities"
and "go" to be taken directly to the relevant list.
2. Results of the You Gov poll can be found at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/corporate/pdf/865896.pdf
3. Referred to generically as affecting 'councils',
local area agreements apply to local authorities (including city
councils, district councils and London boroughs) and a range of
other local service providers, including the police, hospitals and
Job Centres, all of who have worked in partnership to agree the
priorities for their local area and the standards on which they
will work together to deliver.
4. Local Area Agreements are an important part of putting
devolution into practice. LAAs have been negotiated between
central government and local authorities, informed by discussion
with local communities, so that they really focus in on the
priorities that matter to local people.
5. The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007
provides a statutory duty on the local authority to prepare an
LAA, and a duty on partners named in the LAA to cooperate in the
setting of targets. It also provides for these partners to have a
duty to have regard to targets in the LAA. The LAA is submitted
to, and targets formally designated by, the Secretary of State for
Communities and Local Government.
6. This is the first year of the new local government performance
framework for local authorities and local authority partnerships.
Central government has reduced the number of indicators which
councils in England report on from 1200 to 198. This enables
councils and partners to tackle local issues whilst simplifying
reporting procedures. Of the 198 targets, the LAA is made up of up
to 35 improvement targets.
7. Local Authorities will be measured against all 198 indicators,
not simply those with a target attached to them.
Top 20 priorities across England:
Name of priority Number of local
priority (out of
16 to 18 year olds who are not in education, 115
employment or training (NEET)
Under 18 conception rate 106
Net additional homes provided 104
Number of affordable homes delivered (gross) 102
Per capita reduction in CO2 emissions in the 100
Obesity among primary school age children in 99
Serious acquisitive crime rate 98
Proportion of population aged 19-64 for 95
males and 19-59 for females qualified to at
least Level 2 or higher
Stopping smoking 89
% of people who believe people from 87
different backgrounds get on well together in their local area
All-age all cause mortality rate 86
% of people who feel they can influence 85
decisions in their locality
Re-offending rate of prolific and other 83
Assault with injury crime rate 82
Social Care clients receiving Self Directed 81
Support per 100,000 population
Adult participation in sport and active 80
Carers receiving needs assessment or review 80
and a specific carer's service, or advice and information
Young people's participation in positive 77
New business registration rate 76
Repeat incidents of domestic violence 75
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