The huge numbers of statutory duties that have accumulated over centuries are clearly a heavy burden on local government. Many will be out dated. A review that clarifies what they are across government and begins the process of rationalisation must be positive.
It is therefore welcoming to see the government announce (though without much publicity) a cross-departmental review of local authority statutory duties. The government has listed more than 1200 statutory duties and the list is not exhaustive. This is an informal consultation and remains until 25 April 2011.
DCLG are seeking views on :
- What duties are vital to keep?
- What duties should be repealed?
- What burdens have been created through particular duties, and associated regulations and guidance?
- What duties have not been included on the attached list and should also be considered in the review?
Following the consultation, the paper makes it clear that given that these are statutory duties enshrined in legislation, “this is not a short term project likely to result in immediate successes achieved but a more considered, long-term review programme” but that “by the end of this exercise we will have a more comprehensive picture of what the ‘asks’ of local authorities are and thus develop a more informed view of those areas where these duties may no longer be required”.
With massive cuts in local authority budgets, having a clear picture of what is statutory should be useful to councils, trade unions and the public. Reducing the burden of statutory duties clearly fits with a localist agenda.
It is important that the local government community respond to this consultation (which is perhaps unfortunately an informal consultation). Those outside central government may have knowledge of additional duties; and some may have strong opinions on which duties should not be repealed, as well as those which should.
This post is based on a LGiU members briefing written by Janet Sillett. Briefings are available through individual subscriptions and accessible to all officers and elected members of our member authorities. For more information on joining the Local Government Information Unit please follow this link.