announced today by deputy prime minister John Prescott.
The new regional co-ordination unit reflects the government's
determination to focus on the local impact of its initiatives, and
cabinet office's performance and innovation unit (PIU). The
government has accepted all of the report's conclusions.
Prime minister Tony Blair said:
'This report shows that we need to do more to integrate the way
different government departments currently operate in the regions.
This is why I asked John Prescott to set up a new unit to co- ordinate effectively government policies in the regions.
'I am confident that the new unit, with Lord Falconer as its head,
reporting to the deputy prime minister, will improve the delivery of
the government's policies in the regions.'
The PIU's report Reaching Out: The Role of Central Government at
Regional and Local Level concludes that new arrangements are needed
to promote better co-ordination of key policies on issues such as
regeneration, education, competitiveness, health and crime.
The main conclusions of the report are:
- Stronger and higher profile government offices in the regions
covering all government policies affecting local areas are needed.
The government offices will be accountable for ensuring effective
co-ordination of policies.
- Better ministerial and Whitehall co-ordination of policy
initiatives and communication with government offices through the
creation of the regional co-ordination unit.
- Greater focus on strategic outcomes of central government
initiatives affecting local areas, with success judged against
- That this year's government spending review should look at the
linking of area initiatives as a priority.
- A close working relationship between government and regional
Endorsing the report, Mr Prescott said:
'This report makes clear that we must ensure that co-ordination
between different departments is more streamlined and focused. Our
emphasis on combating social exclusion is an excellent example of
how important it is to work across departments to tackle problems
covering health, education, the local environment, crime and family
'A key way of achieving this is by strengthening the role of
government offices in the regions and giving them more flexibility,
so that they will be able more effectively to co-ordinate policies
on the ground. By providing the focus for all Departments whose
work bears upon the English regions, this unit will help us deliver
a better service for local people and their communities.
'These improvements in the way government does business will
complement the performance of the RDAs.'
The main functions of the new unit will be to:
- Co-ordinate the delivery of central government's initiatives in the
regions including those affecting local areas.
- Secure more integrated initiatives on the ground, especially
through promoting the use of government offices by Whitehall
- Encourage better working between the government offices and other
regional and local partners.
- Manage the corporate functions of the government offices.
The core of the new unit will be established from 1 April. The unit
will bring together the interests of a range of departments. Its
first task will be to devise and implement an action plan for taking
forward the PIU report's conclusions.
Welcoming his new role, Lord Falconer said:
'This report is an excellent analysis of the problems facing service
deliverers. We now need to tackle the way in which different
departments operate in the regions and affect the same local areas.
Equally important will be the better co-ordination of Departments'
regional activities at the centre, which is why I am looking forward
to my new role in control of the new unit.
'In last year's Modernising Government White Paper we committed
ourselves to improving the business of policy-making by ensuring
that different parts of government worked together to deliver the
government's strategic objectives.
'Co-ordinating government initiatives and getting proper feedback are
essential if we are to tackle the big issues like sustainable
development, reducing social exclusion and promoting
competitiveness, all of which cut across departmental
responsibilities at the regional and local level.'
1. Copies of the report, Reaching Out: The Role of Central
Government at Regional and Local Level will be published on the internet at: www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/innovation
2. Other copies of the report are available from The Stationery
Office on 0870 600 5522, ISBN 0-11-430163-8.
3. The Cabinet Office's Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) is
designed to help government tackle strategic issues that cut across
the boundaries of Whitehall departments. It is part of the
government's drive for more joined-up policy making and reports
direct to the prime minister through the cabinet secretary,
4. Government offices in the regions were established in 1994 through
the amalgamation of the regional offices of the departments of
employment, trade and industry, environment and transport. At
present their role is mainly confined to these areas.
5. John Denham, minister of state at the Ddepartment of health, was
sponsor minister for the report. In this role he was responsible
for the general direction of the PIU study.
6. The PIU was able to use findings from research commissioned by the
DETR in their study. The DETR research, Co-ordination of Area Based
Initiatives: Research Working Paper, is published today and explores
how area based regeneration initiatives can work together. It is
available from DETR Publication Sales Centre Tel: 01709 891318,