UK

Eric Pickles attacks council 'non-jobs'

  • 6 July 2010
  • From the section UK
A library
Power should be handed to people who use council services, the LGA says

The communities secretary has attacked councils for creating "non-jobs" such as cheerleading development officers.

Eric Pickles wants local authorities to advertise all posts on their websites so their usefulness can be scrutinised.

As councils decide how to cut spending by £1bn, he also urged them to share services and chief executives.

Meanwhile, the Local Government Association (LGA) is to announce it could save up to £100bn over five years under "radical" plans to devolve power.

Mr Pickles says it is unclear how useful certain council jobs are, citing the examples of audience development officers and communications waste strategy officers.

He will tell the LGA's annual conference in Bournemouth that local people should be able to see where their money is being spent.

'Damaging cuts'

Mr Pickles will also ask whether it is right for councils to have separate planning departments, lawyers and communications teams.

He will call for local authorities to follow the German model of sharing chief executives - a practice a handful of UK councils have already adopted.

LGA chairwoman, Dame Margaret Eaton, will tell councils at the conference to strip out bureaucracy and red tape and hand power over spending to local people to minimise the effects on front-line services.

Eric Pickles
Eric Pickles wants councils to share chief executives, like in Germany

The LGA, which represents more than 350 councils in England and Wales, will call for a "once-in-a-generation" programme of change.

Dame Margaret will say: "I am proposing a radically different way of doing things that will save up to £100bn over five years and help protect vital front-line public services from painful and damaging cuts.

"There are huge opportunities to save money and give people a bigger say in the public sector by starting with a clean sheet and giving power to the people who know their areas best.

"That is the way to reform the system and save money rather than to cut services we know people really need.

"The government has made it clear there are going to be deep cuts in public spending.

"But if we simply cut departments and organisations as they are currently configured, we will do nothing to cut waste and instead hurt the front line more than we need to."

The LGA wants local decision-makers to oversee economic regeneration, planning, housing and regeneration, home energy efficiency, managing flood and climate risks, local transport, and primary health care.

It says stripping out funding streams, ring-fenced budgets, quangos and funding bodies could save billions of pounds.

More than 1,200 delegates are expected to gather in Bournemouth for the biggest debate about the future of public services since the general election.

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