Government exercises excessive control over public services, warns Tories

Local authorities should be able to influence all the public services in their areas, the Conservatives’ health spokesperson said today.

Andrew Lansley told the National Social Services Conference that the government continued to exercise excessive central control over public services, hampering their integration locally, despite initiatives like local area agreements.

The agreements, through which councils and their partners can pool non-mainstream funding to pursue targets negotiated with governments, would not work, he said, because the priorities of bodies like primary care trusts were still centrally determined.

Lansley said: “There’s a real opportunity for local councils to be able to influence public services in their areas as strategic commissioners. The threat is that bodies are created, like PCTs, which are not responsive to locally elected representatives but are the local representatives of central government.”

He also criticised the government’s restructuring of PCTs, saying: “What we have got at the moment is the government proposing changes in structure without being clear about changes in function.”

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