Local government could be weakened after the election

Local government could be further weakened after the election
because of the hostility of the two government departments dealing
with social care to councils, a leading Local Government
Association official has said, writes Mithran Samuel
from the ADSS Spring Seminar.

John Ransford told the Association of Directors of Social
Services spring seminar that the Office of the Deputy Prime
Minister’s 10-year vision for local government, which
promised to enhance councils’ role, was not shared across

The LGA’s director of education and social policy said the
Department of Health was particularly hostile, while the
“jury was out” on the Department for Education and
Skills under new secretary of state Ruth Kelly.

“There’s no evidence that the ODPM’s vision is
Whitehall’s vision,” he said. This meant that local
government could be either strengthened or weakened after the
election, he added.

Ransford said the UK had become the most centralised in the
developed world, leading to inefficient services and limited

However, Camden Council chief executive Moira Gibb, a former
ADSS president, said there was plenty councils could do to improve
their areas and in particular to foster social cohesion.

She said: “We have an enormous range of powers to put to
work to help our communities. We still have the opportunity to make
much more of the role of local government even if the direction of
travel is that we have fewer powers.”

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