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WHITEHALL URGED TO SHARE OUT POWERS

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DCLG consults on future structure...
DCLG consults on future structure

By Richard Vize, editor

The Department for Communities & Local Government - which brings together local government, housing, planning, neighbourhood renewal and community cohesion - is consulting on its structure.

Highlighting the tough public spending climate, permanent secretary Peter Housden says in his discussion paper Building the Department for Communities & Local Government: 'We need to continue to strip out unnecessary complexity and devolve more power and responsibility to our delivery partners and to communities.'

He plans to establish programme executives covering all the major policy areas, chaired by senior civil servants.

The Communities Executive, led by current director general of the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit Joe Montgomery, will include community cohesion, a responsibility inherited from the Home Office. Neil Kinghan, director general for local government, remains the sector's lead civil servant.

In language similar to Sir Michael Lyons' discussion of the 'place-shaping' role of councils in his interim report on local government reform, Mr Housden says: 'We want to bring more consistency and focus to our work on 'place', ensuring that government's interaction with localities large and small is coherent, productive and efficient.'

In response to the report, Sir Michael said: 'It is an opportunity to weed out second guessing and poor performance that is common in most departments.

'The government departments are knocked by confusion over responsibilities and too frequently the important job of advising ministers on legislation gets mixed up with other roles.

'I think this is an issue that needs to be addressed if we are going to get local government to change too. We have to reduce the confusion about ministers' roles and reduce the framework to leave local people to make decisions for local people.'

DCLG's new structure will be implemented in September.

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