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Offering solutions for greater freedom

Emma Maier
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The DCLG team offers a mix of experience and fresh thought

The new line-up at the Department for Communities & Local Government offers great potential for the sector.

Stalwart Eric Pickles brings experience and knows local government inside out. He may not always see eye to eye with councils, but he understands them.

Likewise, Grant Shapps and Bob Neill are well versed. This will allow for a mature relationship - but will require local government to be upfront and confident.

Notwithstanding the apparent contradiction, a minister for decentralisation is welcome. The position of the role is curious: a secretary of state for decentralisation would have had more impact.

Instead, the role is constrained within DCLG, separate from police and education reform. The benefit is that inaugural incumbent Greg Clark will have ample remit to consider decentralisation involving councils - not a given in Tory circles.

Nevertheless, it will fall to Mr Clark to seek cross-cutting influence, and to Mr Pickles to support him.

As former shadow minister for the third sector and shadow climate secretary, Mr Clark is experienced in this. His voluntary sector links are also relevant - in February he said charities could support the ‘more with less’ agenda by solving social problems instead of dealing with symptoms.

Overall, the DCLG team offers a mix of experience and fresh thought. The challenge for local government is to offer solutions that can be exchanged for greater freedom.

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