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LAAs and national indicators go

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Local area agreements have been scrapped by the government.

The system, created by Labour to encourage public sector collaboration in localities, was based on meeting national performance indicators, which will also go, communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles has said.

Speaking at a meeting called by Hammersmith & Fulham LBC, he said: “I am scrapping local area agreements. It will be up to councils and their voters to keep them if they see fit.

“Instead of the national indicators there will be a single list of data that the government needs from you. Instead of red tape and regulations you will be given the freedom to take your own decisions.”

Mr Pickles said he would encourage local pooling of public sector budgets and said he would try to end the plethora of funding streams and instead provide “just one cheque for each council”

He said the 179 national indicators had come with 66 pages of guidance and said Kent CC alone had complained to him that it spent £1m a year on responding to inspections.

“It beggars belief, and almost any other use of the money would do more to help people,” he said.

Mr Pickles said he would not act as a “puppet master” to councils, saying he had “already cut many [of your] strings and will remove more if I can”.

Hammersmith & Fulham chief executive Geoff Alltimes welcomed the announcement.

“The joint working we are doing and will do does not need an LAA,” he said. “With the NIs there was pressure from the government to adopt some particular ones, but this means our targets will be our own.”

Local Government Improvement & Development managing director Rob Whiteman said Mr Pickles’ move was “expected and very much what the LGA wanted, we can work with other parts of the public sector without the LAA structure”.

Councils could expect a world where they would have “far less money but far more freedom” under the coalition, Mr Pickles said.

He said the cuts due in next week’s spending review would be “an enforced opportunity to re-examine the way every council works and how every service is delivered, there is no way we can fall back on throwing money at problems and the last decade shows it does not work anyway”.

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