England & Wales

Balance of Power report: government is more centralised than ever


Busy day today so posting in haste, below is the statement we have put out on the Balance of Power report and here is a link to an interview I did on CNBC this morning

20/05/09 Responding to the publication today of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s report on the Balance of Power, LGiU Chief Executive Andy Sawford said:

“Our constitutional democracy is on red alert. Events of the last week have led to a catastrophic fall in public confidence in politicians and the political system. MPs are trying to do too many things and they are failing.

They try to run local services instead of letting councils get on with it. They try to provide a local citizen advisory service instead of leaving it to the voluntary sector and more local community representatives. They try to fix all ills instead of acknowledging the limitations of central government. The effect is too many shortcomings in our public services and now too many bloated expense claims

The way out of this mess is for parliament to rapidly and dramatically scale back. The Select Committee Report makes very important and welcome recommendations about how we can put powers back into the hands of local politicians more accountable to local people. Local councils are now the highest performing part of the public sector and local councillors, who these days have a very robust approach to standards of conduct, and are more in touch with the real lives of the British people, are better placed to make decisions and be held to account for them.

Key suggestions in the report include several recommended by the LGiU: a new power of general competence for local authorities; a new model to increase accountability and improve services in healthcare and policing; a new written constitutional relationship between central and local government.