Announcement

New plan locks-in radical decentralisation course

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A new action plan for the radical shift of power from Whitehall to local councils and communities that will make the Big Society part of every…

A new action plan for the radical shift of power from Whitehall to local councils and communities that will make the Big Society part of every day life was published by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles today.

Today the Prime Minister is announcing new Structural Reform Plans for making departments accountable for the implementation of the reforms set out in the Coalition agreement. They replace the old, top-down systems of targets and central mismanagement.

Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark said in a speech today that the new 18 month programme will deliver radical decentralising and transparency reforms that put citizens and councils in control of their communities.

Mr Clark believes too much power has been sucked out of communities into Westminster eroding trust in politics, and sapping responsibility and initiative with stifling bureaucracy.

Already Ministers have begun to remove swathes of centralising and red tape policies including ending Regional Strategies and putting housing back into local hands, ending unwanted garden grabbing, abolishing Home Information Packs and a burdensome council inspection regime.

The new 45 point action plan will force the department to shift gear so its purpose will be putting localism into action instead of ruling by central diktats.

Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark said:

We’re busting open the established way of doing things. The department will now only work to empower people, not to keep Whitehall in power.

Councils are no longer going to be strangled by prescribed one-size-fits diktats on the one hand and smothered by regional bureaucracy on the other.

We won’t be micromanaging, second guessing, and interfering in your affairs any more. We’re going to put citizens and communities in control.

The Communities and Local Government’s Structural Reform Plan will set out the department’s five priority actions for making localism and the Big Society part of everyday life by:

  • decentralising power as far as possible
  • meeting people’s housing aspirations
  • putting communities in charge of planning
  • increasing accountability
  • letting people see how their money is being spent.

Notes to editors

  1. The Cabinet Office has published Structural Reform Plans for Education and Communities and Local Government alongside the Cabinet Office Structural Reform Plan which was published recently. More information on the Structural Reform Plans can be found at www.number10.gov.uk/news/topstorynews/2010/07/structural-reform-plans-53023 (external link).

  2. The CLG Structural Reform Plan is available at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/structuralreformplan.

It sets out a range of actions and milestones envisaged to deliver Coalition Agreements including:

  • Stopping the restructuring of councils in Norfolk, Suffolk and Devon
  • Moving from Local Authorities reporting to central Government to Local Authorities reporting to local people
  • Giving residents the power to instigate local referendums on any local issue and to veto excessive council tax increases, as part of a Localism Bill
  • Freezing Council Tax in England for at least one year and seek to freeze it for a further year, in partnership with local authorities
  • Giving residents the power to instigate local referendums on any local issue and to veto excessive council tax increases, as part of a Localism Bill
  • Scrap Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), and replacing them with local enterprise partnerships
  • Scrapping Regional Strategies and return decision-making powers to local councils
  1. The coalition has already begun row back on swathes of unnecessary red tape:
  • Called time on the Regional Spatial Strategy putting power back in the hands of local people and scrapped housing targets. Soon I will be announcing the full list of incentives to local authorities that will encourage development.
  • Made HIPS history and already the number of homes being put up for sale has gone up by 35 per cent. 
  • Put an end to unwanted ‘garden grabbing’ putting the decision back in the hands of local people.
  • Cut the ring fencing and red tape which comes attached to hundreds of millions pounds worth of central government grants.
  • Abolished Comprehensive Area Assessments where town halls report back to Whitehall.
  • Handed over more power to councils so they can manage high concentrations of shared housing in their area, without putting off landlords from renting the homes people need. 
  • Vince Cable has announced an immediate review of all regulation in the pipeline for implementation which has been inherited from the last Government.
  • Lord Young of Graffham has been appointed as advisor to the prime minister on health and safety law and practice to reduce the compensation culture.

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