Welcome to Frontiers of Performance in Local Government IV: Place Shapers or Shaped by Place? This report is the latest in the Ipsos MORI series which seeks to provide the most recent and meaningful analysis of public perceptions around the performance of local authorities, based on the Autumn 2006 BVPI General User Satisfaction Survey, undertaken by all English local authorities. It also updates our report of earlier this year, which was based on single and upper tier authority data only.
This analysis is published at an important time for local government. The Lyons Inquiry re-affirms in detail the important contribution that local authorities have to make to improving local areas and the well-being of citizens. With the Comprehensive Area Assessment replacing the Comprehensive Performance Assessment, change is on the horizon for the local government performance management regime too. Alongside fewer centrally set targets, and more local targets to reflect outcomes for citizens and place, it aims to provide citizens with timely information and better opportunities to hold public service providers to account.
This fits with the call for greater citizen engagement in the recent Local Government White Paper. There is also greater emphasis in Strong and Prosperous Communities on local strategic partnerships and the development of councils’ role as community leaders within partnerships. As we move forward into this period of change, councils are being asked to ensure local residents can more easily influence the work of their authority and local outcomes.
More generally, both major parties are grappling with state spending that seems to have reached the limits of its effectiveness. David Cameron’s calls for a “revolution in responsibility” and Gordon Brown’s “individual responsibility” and “cultural change” both point to finding ways of communities and individuals taking more control of what happens in their areas.