Commission on the Future of Local Government - CfPS Response
CfPS has made a submission in response to the second call for evidence from the Commission on the Future of Local Government. The Commission, led by Leeds City Council, is assessing the role of local government in the 21st century to provide a framework for the reinvention of local government, allowing the sector to meet current challenges and remain relevant and able to meet the needs and aspirations of citizens. In relation to the second call for evidence we shared our thinking about how the role of councillors and citizen engagement can be re-framed around our principles of transparency, inclusiveness and accountability and we invited the Commission to endorse our principles – the idea that culture and values are more important than structures and processes – when it publishes its final report.
Freedom from central control means that local accountability needs strengthening so that local people have confidence that commissioners and providers are focused on safe services that provide good quality and value. Communities need confidence that public services are focused on sustainable long term improvement not short term financial gain. Councillors – with their unique democratic mandate to speak up for people about everything that happens in an area - should be at the heart of this new approach. Building on the theme of councillors as ‘guardians’ of people and places, it is important to be clear about how they can use processes for challenge and accountability to provide assurance for local people that their needs and aspirations are understood, that services are being planned and delivered around their long term needs and that public agencies understand (and are working together to mitigate) risks to the resilience and prosperity of communities. Councillors will have an important role helping local people to navigate the increasingly complex service landscape and they will be able to provide a highly-visible source of accountability for wider, strategic issues arising from the increase in choice, personalisation and more complex delivery partnerships. Councillors should be ‘people’s voice to services’ rather than ‘services voices to people’ and need to make sure their councils build dynamic and proportionate governance frameworks to maximise accountability and transparency, while not imposing bureaucracy or slowing down decision-making. Relying on traditional forms of governance will not be sufficient to be truly enabling, transparent and accountable to local people.
In concluding our submission, we emphasised our thoughts about the principles we believe should underpin public sector reform and local governance in the 21st century. We believe that councillors have a unique role to play to tackle the challenges everyone encounters wherever they live and to help communities build resilience and secure prosperity and we included some examples of councillors using different ways of working, going beyond traditional methods, to make a difference in their areas.