Sam Clayden 26 February 2018

Report demands new accountability powers for local government

Academics have demanded a raft of tools to enable local government to hold to account the ‘chaotic network’ of agencies involved in providing public services.

New research, published by the Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE) and carried out by the Local Governance Research Unit at De Montfort University, claimed the events surrounding the Grenfell fire, as well as the fallout of the Carillion collapse, highlighted the complexity of the public services landscape.

The report read: ‘There exists a complex and often chaotic network of interactions between a range of actors, within the localities, which operate beyond the normal restraints imposed by a democratic link of accountability to the public.

‘That absence of a democratic link or source of legitimacy adds to the chaos of governing networks as they are not rooted within the localities in the same way as local government.’

The paper calls for the creation of local public accounts committees (PAC) in all council areas and for all councillors to have ‘securing public accountability’ as part of their role.

All arms-length bodies created by councils must have robust accountability processes in place, with opportunities for councillors to challenge and influence the actions of the entity, the report added.

Councils should also be made to develop a local ‘governance framework’ policy document, which identifies all the organisations the council interacts with and a ‘governance forum’ where all those organisations can ‘regularly meet’

APSE chief executive Paul O’Brien said: ‘Too often we witness agencies acting in ways which can undermine the needs of local areas.

‘By giving councils a much broader role in pulling together disparate local actors we can start to enhance joined up public policy outcomes.’

Rachel Wall, one of the report's researchers, added: 'Those who behave in a way which damages the wider public interest should be accountable at a local level; at the same time bringing accountability to the current chaos will provide a vehicle to enrich the efficacy of local networks”

Writing in The MJ last month, Centre for Public Scrutiny chief executive Jacqui McKinlay called for the creation of local PACs, saying there was an ‘actual democratic defecit’.

For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Payroll Specialist

Essex County Council
Up to £34805 per annum + + 26 Days Leave & Defined Benefits Pension
Closing Date
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Payroll & People Advisor - Permanent

Essex County Council
Up to £27338 per annum + + 25 Days Leave & Defined Benefit Pension
Closing Date
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Payroll & People Advisor - 12-month Fixed Term Contract

Essex County Council
Up to £27338 per annum + + 25 Days Leave & Defined Benefit Pension
Payroll & People Advisor - 12-month Fixed Term Contract Closing Date
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Waste Manager

Isle of Wight Council
£42,923 to £46,402 per annum
We are seeking to appoint a highly motivated individual County Hall, Newport / Agile
Recuriter: Isle of Wight Council

Engineer (Client Team)

Manchester City Council
£35,336 to £39,571 (Bar at £38,553) per annum 
The post holder will be responsible for supporting the Client Team Manager Manchester, Greater Manchester
Recuriter: Manchester City Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.