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An LGC exclusive by Suzanne Simmons-Lewis ...
An LGC exclusive by Suzanne Simmons-Lewis

Relationships between government departments and councils when negotiating public service agreements have been problematic, school standards minister Stephen Timms has admitted.

Defending the Department for Education and Skills' record on delivery of its local public service agreement commitments, Mr Timms conceded there has been some difficulty with councils.

But the differences in understanding were 'rather less in this department than elsewhere', he added.

It is understood the DfES came under pressure following LGC reports that local PSAs had stalled through lack of interest from central government (LGC, 25 January).

Mr Timms, who sits on central government's PSA sub-committee and has been involved with PSAs since their inception, stressed the DfES was faring far better than other departments.

Pointing to evidence from a recent confidential sub-committee report that charts the progress of PSAs across all government departments, he said: 'The view of the pilot authorities is that 63% of [the DfES's commitments] have been fully delivered so far which is a good achievement.'

He added: 'Our department's view is that 89% of those targets have been fully delivered. So there is some work to be done in bringing together the different views in the authorities and the government.'

Neil Kinghan, director of economic and environmental policy at the Local Government Association, said: 'The DfES and the Department of Health are well-organised and the LGA welcomes the commitment both have put into local PSAs.'

The government is aiming to negotiate the remaining 130 local PSAs by the end of the year.

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