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LGA CONFERENCE: NEW BEACON COUNCILS TO LIGHT THE WAY - ROUND FIVE LAUNCHED

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Round Five of the Beacon Council Scheme was launched today with£5m government funding available to the successful ...
Round Five of the Beacon Council Scheme was launched today with £5m government funding available to the successful authorities.

The scheme aims to identify and award the best performing authorities

that then act as centres of excellence from which other authorities

can learn. It also provides opportunities for sharing of best

practice and networking, and acknowledges the valued work of

frontline staff.

In line with the government's Capacity Building Programme, £2m

of the available funding has been set aside specifically to enable

beacons to work with individual authorities needing to improve their

delivery in a particular service area.

Launching Round Five of the scheme at the Local Government

Association conference, local government minister Nick

Raynsford said:

'The beacon scheme has been hugely successful in improving the

quality of key public services. It rewards excellence in the

frontline and enables authorities to learn from each other to improve

the services they deliver.

'Over the last four rounds, 186 beacons have been awarded, and nearly

all councils have attended a learning event. As a result real

improvements are taking place and the scheme is really having an

effect in raising aspirations and achievements.'

This round offers a wide range of themes reflecting services that are

vital to people's quality of life and the sustainability of local

communities for example: better local public transport, crime and

disorder partnerships, and promoting sustainable tourism. Other

themes are particularly relevant to those most in need: early years

and childcare, services for older people, and supporting social care

workers. A full list of Round Five themes is included in Annex A.

Beacon status can be sought by the full range of authorities: urban

and rural, unitary and two-tier, single service, and from all parts

of the country. Joint applications, from councils working in

partnership, are very much encouraged.

Mr Raynsford said:

'In order to be able to learn from the best we must first identify

the best. Many authorities continue to deliver first-rate services

and we want to build on these positive achievements. I look forward

to seeing another strong field of applications this year, including

more applicants from non-council best value authorities.'

Successful applicants will be announced in April 2004, with the Round

Five Beacons holding their status from April 2004 to June 2005.

LGA chair Jeremy Beecham said:

'We strongly urge local authorities to apply. There is a lot of good

work going on in local government and service delivery across the

country, and it is important that the beacon scheme captures this so

that others can learn from it.'

Details of how to apply to the scheme are published in The Beacon

Council Scheme: How to Apply 2003 available today. The closing date

for applications is 10 September 2003.

Notes

- Copies of The Beacon Council Scheme: How to Apply 2003 are

available from:

ODPM Free Literature

PO Box236

Wetherby

West Yorkshire

LS23 7NB

Tel: 0870 1226 236

Fax: 0870 1226 237

ANNEX A - Beacon Council Scheme themes for Round Five

- Benefits Administration

Effective and efficient administration of housing and council tax

benefit is a core task for councils and one which affects the quality

of many people's lives. The theme will concentrate on the work

councils have done in partnership with local agencies and other

organisations, which helps people meet their housing needs and also

supports those moving into work or between jobs.

- Better Local Public Transport

Good local public transport can help improve quality of life. In both

urban and rural areas, people want public transport that is reliable,

convenient, safe, affordable, and accessible. Local authorities in

partnership with tra nsport operators and community groups, as well as

others in the public and private sectors, have a key role in planning

and co-ordinating action to improve local public transport.

- Crime and Disorder Partnerships

The Crime & Disorder Act 1998 placed a new duty on local authorities

and the police, in close co-operation with other agencies and local

organisations to formulate and implement a crime and disorder

strategy for their area. The Act placed a legal obligation upon

parish and community councils, police authorities, the probation

service, health authorities, governing bodies of schools and

institutions of further education to co-operate fully in this work.

- Early Years and Childcare: the Sure Start Agenda

Early years provision and childcare play a significant role in

delivering the Government's overall aims to increase opportunity for

all, to build responsible and secure communities, and to raise

productivity and sustainable growth. Childcare unlocks the

opportunity of employment and training for parents, which in turn

helps to reduce child poverty. High quality childcare and early years

education also help ensure that children get the best possible start

in life, which brings long term personal, social and economic

benefits.

- Housing Renewal

Poor condition housing can impact on the health of its occupants, and

the sustainability of communities. Local authorities have a crucial

role to play in improving housing condition in the private sector,

both in providing assistance to vulnerable owners and tenants - for

which authorities have recently been given much wider powers - and

taking action to enforce standards. This role has been reinforced by

the new national target to increase the number of vulnerable

households in the private sector living in decent homes.

- Promoting Sustainable Tourism

This theme will give local authorities the opportunity to demonstrate

excellence in su pporting the tourism industry in all relevant areas

of their remit, working together with local and regional partners as

appropriate. The theme aim is to maximise tourism's contribution to

the economy, whilst balancing the wider needs of consumers and

residents as well as their shared interest in maintaining the local

environment and infrastructure.

- Services for Older People

The Pension Service, local councils, the NHS and a variety of

voluntary and independent sector organisations have a joint agenda

aimed at alleviating pensioner poverty, providing high quality

person-centred services for older people and promoting security and

independence in retirement. Greater partnership working plays a

crucial role in reaching those most socially excluded in our

communities, ensuring that pensioner poverty is reduced and older

people receive services which enable them to remain independent and

included members of their local community.

- Supporting People

Supporting People will launch in 2003. The new programme will fund

housing related support services including domestic violence refuges,

sheltered accommodation for older people, independent living

complexes for people with learning difficulties and units for people

with alcohol misuse. As part of their new responsibilities, local

authorities will be required to strategically plan the development of

services considering gaps in provision, quality and monitoring and

value for money.

- Supporting Social Care Workers

Social care workers are a key part of delivering the government's

modernisation agenda. The quality of the workforce is crucial for the

quality of the services that are provided to vulnerable people. A

beacon in this area lights the way for modern solutions to tackle

recruitment and retention problems in councils' social services

departments and so enables them to provide quality services for the

most vulnerable in our society.

- Trans forming the School Workforce

The aim of the government's school workforce reform programme is to

improve the recruitment, retention, quality, and status of all

members of the school workforce. Workforce reform is not an end in

itself. The focus is on developing a school workforce that has the

professionalism, teamwork, and leadership to deliver further rapid

and sustainable improvements in standards, while at same time

narrowing achievement gaps. Workforce reform therefore underpins the

Government's schools policies more generally.

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