government and regional affairs select committee's report on How the
Local Government Act 2000 is Working.
authorities so that decision-making becomes more efficient,
transparent and accountable. It also set up a new ethical framework
and gave councils new powers to promote or improve economic, social
and environmental well-being of their areas.
Local government minister Nick Raynsford said:
'We are pleased that the select committee has examined how the Local
Government Act 2000 is working and its conclusions will be useful as
we take this policy forward.
'We do not believe, as the committee suggests, that sufficient
experience of the new arrangements has been gained for there to be
any sound basis for change or repeal of a significant part of the
current regulations and guidance or to warrant the disruption that
'Although all councils have now adopted new council constitutions,
about 40% of councils have done so only during the six months prior
to publication of the select committee's report. We therefore feel
that the best response to the issues raised is to continue to support
councils in implementing the changes that they have only recently
The report also highlighted the committee's concerns that local
authorities are now subject to too much scrutiny by too many external
organisations. It called on the government to ensure that inspections
are consolidated and reduced before June 2003.
Mr Raynsford continued:
'We agree that inspections of local authorities needs to be better
co-ordinated and more focussed. They need to add greater value and
take into account local authorities' own priorities and planning
requirements. The comprehensive performance assessment will be key to
the achievement of a proportionate and co-ordinated inspection
'Inspectorates are working together to develop a programme of overall
inspection for councils from April 2003 which will significantly
reduce the volume of inspection and make it more efficient. In
addition, we have recently announced that there will be a significant
reduction in the amount of inspection undertaken with a three-year
inspection holiday being offered to 'excellent' authorities, and at
least a 25% reduction in inspections for 'good' authorities.
'These changes build on the freedoms and flexibilities that will be
taken forward in the Local Government Bill with respect to giving
councils freedom to borrow to pay for major projects, giving councils
more powers to charge for discretionary services, and more powers to
enter into trading agreements.'
Following the views of the select committee and responses from a
consultation on pensions, the government has decided to give local
authorities powers to include councillors in the Local Government
Pension Scheme. The government will therefore amend the scheme to
open it up to those councillors whose authorities, acting on the
views of their independent remuneration panels, decide should be
eligible for membership. Interested parties will now be consulted on
the draft regulations with a view to these coming into force next
However the government disagreed with the committee that there should
be a national scheme for councillors' allowances.
Mr Raynsford said:
'We believe in giving local authorities the flexibility to make their
own decisions, taking into account local needs and the views of their
independent remuneration panel. Similarly it is right that local
people are able to form a view on how their own councillors are
recompensed based on their knowledge of the local economy, and hold
them to account. To introduce a national scheme would be contrary to
Mr Raynsford announced that the government plans to simplify the
framework for allowances for travel and subsistence and for parish
councils - bringing them in line with the current allowance system.
This decision comes in the light of a consultation exercise last year
which included local government pensions.
1. The government's response to the select committee report is available here.
2. The transport, local government and regional affairs select
committee published their Report on How the Local Government Act 2000
is Working on 12 September 2002.
3. The Local Government Act 2000 is a central part of the
government's commitment to modernising local government. It aims to
create new ways of working for authorities so that decision making
becomes more efficient, transparent and accountable, new standards of
behaviour apply, and that councils have new powers to promote or
improve economic, social and environmental well-being of their areas.
4. Local authorities currently set their own levels of allowances for
councillors having regard to the recommendations of their independent
remuneration panels. The exception to this are travel and subsistence
allowances which are within limits set by the secretary of state. To
address this anomaly the government went out to consultation in
September 2001 on travel, subsistence and certain other allowances
for local authorities. At the same time the government consulted on
5. Copies of the respective consultation papers are available on the
- Travel, subsistence and certain other allowances for members of
local authorities and other bodies in England -
- Pensions for elected member of local authorities in England -