Councils bid to boost influence on Whitehall

The Local Government Association promised last week to promote
the local government agenda with the 25 ministers with
responsibility for local government issues as soon as they were
appointed by re-elected prime minister Tony Blair.

The LGA said the ministers would be sent three proposals each on
the day of their appointment detailing the ways they could work
with the LGA and councils to improve communities across the

In particular, they want ministers to improve the status of the
social work profession, consider new ways of joint working with
other service providers, and ensure inspections lead to real
improvements (see box).

The LGA has also vowed to seek a meeting with every new minister
within their first month of office to press for constructive
working between Whitehall and local councils.

John Ransford, the LGA’s head of social affairs, health, and
housing, said ministers had a role to play in raising the status of
social workers.

“A simple thing would be to mention social care when talking
about public services,” he said. “The discussion during the
election was almost exclusively about health and education, but
social care is essential as well.”

Ransford also called on the government to join the LGA and
Community Care awareness campaign launched in March to
boost the image of social work as a career (News, page 2, 15

He praised the Social Services Inspectorate for taking a
developmental approach to inspecting local authority services
provision but urged them to do more.

LGA chairman Sir Jeremy Beecham described the launch of a new
administration as the ideal opportunity for local government to set
the agenda for the communities they serve.

“The proposals for ministers mix fresh thinking with innovative
work already in place in some councils,” Beecham said. “What better
time to seize the moment and make a difference?”

Other proposals for ministers focus on improving independent
living opportunities for older people, building on the work of
youth offending teams to support children most at risk of truanting
or being excluded from school, promoting initiatives to tackle
poverty and deprivation, and cutting red-tape.

Ideas That Stand Out, Solutions that Work from
and You Can Make a Difference campaign at

Key LGA proposals for ministers

– Establish a new initiative to improve the skills, numbers and
professional standing of frontline care staff in order to provide
high quality care to those who need it most.

– Work to pilot new ways of joining up key services like health,
education, leisure and social care to provide more effective
support for young people and their parents.

– Refocus the inspection regime so it is a more effective driver
of change and improvement after the review teams have left.

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