Future devolution of power from Whitehall to local areas must take into account frontline services in ‘strategic, financial and delivery terms,’ new report says.
Published by APSE and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), the report says that devolution strategies have so far ‘side-lined’ local government frontline services.
‘Many of the devolution deals have aims that can be supported or addressed by a more intelligent approach to local government frontline services,’ said Paul O’Brien, APSE’s chief executive.
‘Yet time and again we know that these services are often the last to be considered from a strategic level.’
The impact of devolution upon frontline services argues that developing a better relationship between frontline services and strategic policy makers at the local level is integral to the success of devolution.
It called on strategists and frontline managers to ‘close the communication gap’ and work with policy makers and Whitehall to design progressive devolution deals that empower local places.
‘Our research has found that devolution is an incentive for collaboration which has worked in parts,’ said the report’s authors Victoria Bettany and Matthew Jackson.
‘As our places face challenges around austerity, public service reform and entrenched inequality; the power of effective collaboration needs to be recognised.
‘Frontline services form a key part of local strategy to address the above challenges and as such future devolution activity has to be intrinsically linked to the provision of frontline services in both strategic, financial and delivery terms.’
For more on this read APSE and CLES' feature in The MJ (£), 'Hidden in plain sight: the frontline answer to devolution woes.'