Posts Tagged ‘localism’

Back in early October I posted a link to a survey seeking views about whether services should have democratic oversight at all and if so, whether that oversight should come at council, regional or national level.

I am very grateful to so many people for taking the time to complete the survey and I have put together the slide pack below which summarises the results. 

town hall or whitehall

While (as might be expected given most of the respondents are from the world of local government) there is a general sense that there are a number of public services where accountability should switch from Whitehall to townhalls, it’s a more mixed picture.

Significant numbers of respondents feel that a number of more administrative functions such as electoral registration, registration, managing car parks, housing benefits and council tax collection, don’t require democratic oversight at any level.  And for some of these services where respondents felt some kind of role for politicians was appropriate, a large number favoured it being at a national level.  There was also strong support for regional oversight of some services such as transport, emergency planning and waste disposal.

And when it comes to social care the survey suggests that most people continue to see an important role for national politicians.

My tentative conclusions?  Perhaps the debate about devolving power from central to local government tends to get stuck because:

  • some things are better done at a regional level but in most parts of the country there are not regionally elected politicians
  • belief in the need for national oversight of personal social services is strong and probably reflects our cultural belief in uniform outcomes (this was something the Lyons report highlighted that compared with other European states we seem to have less tolerance of regional variations)
  • potentially councils could seek to move out of some of the more administrative functions they perform which might align with a stronger focus on councils as community leaders
  • it would be interesting to run a similiar survey of elected representatives to see how their views match up

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