Laura Sharman 20 April 2016

Auditors urge Government to retain accountability in new devolution deals

Auditors urge Government to retain accountability in new devolution deals image

The Government must ensure it remains accountable for the 'new and experimental' devolution deals being offered to local areas, auditors have warned.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said that while devolution deals in England have the power to stimulate economic growth and reform public services, the arrangements are untested and create 'significant' accountability implications.

It said details of how and when powers will be transferred to mayors and how they will be balanced against national parliamentary accountability should be set out by the Government.

The NAO also said the Government should clarify who will be responsible and accountable for devolved services and functions, and identify any risks that arise from devolution deals.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: 'Despite several iterations of deals, the government’s approach to English devolution still has an air of charting undiscovered territory. It is in explorer mode, drawing the map as it goes along.

'Some of the opportunities and obstacles are becoming clearer, but we still do not have a clear view of the landscape or, crucially, an idea of the destination.'

Meg Hillier, chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, added: 'Devolution does not absolve Government of accountability. As more money is devolved it is vital that there is clear tracking of where and how effectively it is spent.

'It is not enough to say the details are still taking shape. The big questions need to be answered, including who taxpayers can hold to account. This is especially important when complex public services, like health, are devolved but where national service standards are to be maintained.'

Ten devolution deals and already been agreed, transferring powers, funding and functions from central Government to local areas.

IPPR North told The MJ the Government’s ‘deal-by-deal’ approach to English devolution was creating a ‘problematic lack of clarity’.

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Head of HR/OD

Babergh & Mid Suffolk
£60,000 circa
The role will involve working closely with the Senior Leadership Team and Chief Executive to lead our People Strategy and... Ipswich, Suffolk
Recuriter: Babergh & Mid Suffolk

Customer Services Assistant (Libraries)

Essex County Council
Up to £9469 per annum
Please note this is part time position (18.5 hours a week) across Uttlesford, mainly based in Dunmow and Stansted and is to be offered on an initial 6 England, Essex, Dunmow
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Customer Services Assistant (Libraries)

Essex County Council
Up to £18938 per annum
Please note this position is to be offered on an initial 6 month , fixed term basis. Do you enjoy working with people? Enthusiastic about playing a ke England, Essex, Saffron Walden
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Customer Services Assistant - Mark Hall Library

Essex County Council
£17000 - £18950 per annum
Please note that this position is a part time role, offering 18.5 hours per week and is offered on a Fixed Term Basis for a period of 6 months. England, Essex, Harlow
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Practitioner - Family Support & Protection

Essex County Council
Negotiable
Please note this is a fixed term contract or secondment opportunity until December 2020 In Essex County Council we are "Serious about Social Work". H England, Essex, Basildon
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Local Government News

Latest issue - Local Goverrnemnt News

This issue of Local Government News explores what impact the increase to the Public Works Loan Board rate have on councils’ capital schemes and why adopting AI will not just improve customer service response times for councils.

This issue also finds out how local government pension funds are backing infrastructure projects and calls on local government to get better value from its technology spend.

Register for your free magazine