Contribution to Local Government Innovation Taskforce Final Report
Submission to the Labour Party Innovation Taskforce Final Report
In our previous submission to the Taskforce we spelt out the costs of centralisation. This submission concentrates on how to create a healthy, responsive, democratic system and a new approach to public services that breaks out of service silos and genuinely puts people first.
To achieve this we sketch out some crucial new duties and rights which will rebalance our system and enhance public engagement and accountability.
We have adopted five key principles which aim to define a new relationship between citizens and the state.
First, we are explicit in our concern about devolving and sharing power.
Second, we do not value public service “delivery” but rather the achievement of social value and social outcomes.
Third, we recognise that value exists in the relationships between people and therefore the nature of these relationships is important.
Fourth, we believe that democratic accountability matters and there is an important role for elected community leadership at regional, local and neighbourhood level.
Fifth, we believe a concern for social equity requires a new model of welfare – decentralised, designed with people rather than for them and geared to building capacity and resilience in communities rather than sucking it out.
Summary of our proposals
1. Support a fundamental, irreversible power shift and a pledge to make decisions in a new way that is backed up by a legally enforceable public interest test that combines the principles of subsidiarity and of openness.
2. Establish a new central-local relationship with a focus on social outcomes by abolishing the Department for Communities and Local Government and tasking the central civil service with facilitating behaviour change to deliver outcomes throughout a decentralised system of public services. Labour will establish a new charter for central government which sets out key principles of devolution and transparency and makes clear that the primary role of the centre is to ensure that useful data on social outcomes is available to all, develop the skills of all those working in the public and social sector and create the conditions for innovation and learning throughout the system.
3. Reinvent solidarity and value social relationships and community identity by requiring every public service to support social relationships and develop social cohesion.
4. Once new powers and responsibilities have been transferred to councils establish clear expectations for accountability; Transform local democratic engagement by clarifying roles of local leaders; agree a benchmark for 40 per cent of eligible voters to participate in local elections; establish a new local constitution of fundamental rights in every area, ensure an effective local public champion through a powerful, independent local audit committee, clarify and support the roles of local councillors in their wards and broaden the role of local democratic services.
The paper will be approved for publication at the CCIN meeting in Plymouth on June 20th.
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