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PSAs - MORE COUNCILS TO JOIN NEW SCHEME TO IMPROVE KEY SERVICES

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A further 13 councils across England have been chosen to pioneer an ...
A further 13 councils across England have been chosen to pioneer an

innovative new scheme aimed at improving key local services. This

means that 20 councils will be pilots for the local Public Service

Agreement (PSA) scheme launched by the government and the Local

Government Association in July. The scheme is intended to give

councils more flexibility and the prospect of cash rewards for

performance against local PSA agreements which will identify the key

local services that councils intend to improve.

Hilary Armstrong said:

'I am very pleased with the level of interest that has been expressed

in this new initiative, which is all about encouraging and rewarding

improvements in key services. The pilot exercise will be valuable in

working up a scheme which can be progressively rolled out to all

authorities who wish to participate.'

Jeremy Beecham, chair of the Local Government Association, said:

'The LGA is delighted to see that 20 councils are being invited

to pilot local PSAs. The scheme offers the prospect both of securing

valuable improvements in vital services for local people and of

transforming relations between local and central government.'

The 20 authorities participating in the pilot exercise are:

Birmingham City Council

Blackburn with Darwen BC

Cambridgeshire CC

Camden LBC

Coventry City Council

Derbyshire CC

Kent CC

Lewisham LBC

Middlesbrough Council

Milton Keynes Council

Newcastle City Council

Newham LBC

Norfolk CC

Richmond-on-Thames LBC

Sheffield City Council

Stockton-on-Tees BC

Sunderland City Council

Surrey CC

Tameside MBC

Warwickshire CC

Seven of these (Camden, Kent, Milton Keynes, Norfolk,

Stockton-on-Tees, Sunderland and Warwickshire) were identified in

July as likely participants in the pilot scheme. The aim is for local

PSAs to be agreed with the pilot authorities by the end of the year.

The pilot exercise will then be evaluated, ahead of the planned wider

roll out of the scheme.

NOTES

The government announced in the Spending Review 2000 that it intends

to offer local authorities the opportunity to enter into new local

Public Service Agreements (PSAs). The concept has been developed in close partnership with the Local Government Association and is based in part on their Local Challenge proposals.

Local PSAs are a means by which local authorities can build upon best

value and commit themselves to delivering even better outcomes for

local people than they would otherwise expect to achieve. Each local

PSA will focus on about twelve key outcomes which reflect a mix of

national and local priorities, including where appropriate targets to

improve outcomes for areas or groups most at risk of social

exclusion. In return, central government departments will offer a

package of agreed freedoms and flexibilities, and other incentives

including rewards for success, which will help authorities to deliver

these enhanced outcomes.

Pilot authorities concluding PSAs will be eligible for grants of

£50,000 in respect of administration costs. They will also be able

to apply for pump priming grants of up to£1m to assist in

delivering enhanced performance. Performance against the PSA targets

will be monitored, and rewards of up to 2.5 per cent of authorities'

net budget requirement for 2000-01 will be available.

In total,£400m over three years has been made available for

the whole scheme including the pilot. Seven authorities (Camden,

Kent, Milton Keynes, Norfolk, Stockton-on-Tees, Sunderland and

Warwickshire) were closely involved in the scoping exercise during

the 2000 spending review.

These authorities have been asked to submit fully worked up proposals

by the end of September. The remaining 13 authorities have been asked

to submit full proposals by the end of October. Detailed discussion

of the content of their local PSAs will follow.

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