The scheme aims to identify and award the best performing authorities
that then act as centres of excellence from which other authorities
practice and networking, and acknowledges the valued work of
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
'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.
- Copies of The Beacon Council Scheme: How to Apply 2003 are
ODPM Free Literature
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
- 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.