Addressing the annual seminar of the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) in Birmingham yesterday he described a clear vision for local government to be set out in the local government white paper.
* A belief in free-standing local government with its own democratic mandate and not an agent of central government
* Local authorities who will be effective community leaders and local champions who represent the full range of interests
* Authorities that are citizen focused, who listen, hear and then act on
* Authorities must be committed to excellence in service delivery, looking for innovative approaches on the ethos of continuous improvement
In terms of modernisation the minister acknowledged that many have made great progress but for others it will mean a change of culture. In this he offered support for authorities to build up their internal capacity. He continued by stating 'effective organisations must have effective performance management coupled with good processes and structures'.
He reassured delegates with the promise that the government was 'not about to embark on the whole scale privatisation of public services but wanted to raise standards.'
In discussing year 2 of best value he said that 'authorities should not avoid cross cutting reviews' and urged them to include reviews between councils and other public agencies. On audit and inspection he reiterated its importance but said, 'It should not impose too great a burden' and promised 'a more collaborative approach.'
In responding to questions, the minister announced a fundamental review of the SSA with a view to introducing changes in 2003/4.
Speaking at the conference, APSE director Paul O'Brien said: 'the association welcomes the ministers' clear statement on a strong future for public services both at the conference and in our on-going dialogue. It is very encouraging to see the emerging synergy between government policy and the association's agenda on delivering excellence in public services'.
* Contact LGCnetfor a faxed copy of Mr Raynsford's speech.