LGA: Councils should control primary health

Councils should have greater control over the running of health services, the Local Government Association said today.

In a consultative document, the LGA said it believed that making councils responsible for primary health, as well as policing and employment services, would improve outcomes and drive out inefficiencies and improve democratic accountability.

The LGA said that the Total Place initiative – which seeks to improve public sector efficiency by reducing duplication across agencies – had shown that while £7,000 per person was spent on local services, just £350 was controlled by local politicians.

A report this week commissioned by London Councils found that savings of 15% could be achieved in the capital by applying the Total Place approach to tackling antisocial behaviour, worklessness and chronic health conditions.

Today’s LGA report said giving councils greater powers over health and other services was an extension of the Total Place approach, though it would have to be pursued at a different pace in different areas.

The report called for greater devolution of powers to councils and sets out a series of proposals for council and sector leaders to consider by March.

It said that £4.5bn a year could be saved by reducing unnecessary Whitehall activity, with the annual cost of monitoring and inspecting local government totalling about £2bn.

‘Cut external inspection

The report said external inspection of councils should be reduced with a greater focus on peer reviews and also suggested the creation of a single inspectorate for local public services.

This would imply the merger of the Audit Commission, Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, and the police and probation inspectorates.

David Parsons, chair of the LGA’s improvement board, said: “We need much less central control if we are to deliver better services and lead our local areas. At the same time, increasing local accountability will strengthen democracy and save public money.”

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