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Public Service Delivery

Volume 502: debated on Tuesday 8 December 2009

9. What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of local authorities in delivery of local public services. (304605)

Local government has improved significantly during the past decade. It plays a key role in local areas, ensuring that citizens receive high-quality public services from all local providers. In yesterday’s White Paper we announced increases in flexibility and reductions in bureaucracy, which will help fulfil that role more effectively. Tomorrow, we will see the first comprehensive area assessment results, which will provide transparent information, enabling citizens to hold local service providers to account.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that answer, but does he agree that in localities such as the Barnsley metropolitan borough council area the regional development agency plays a very important part in ensuring that the effectiveness of local authority services is improved, by being able to focus on the wider issues of transport and employment to help in creating the jobs that Barnsley needs so much?

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. That is exactly the role that regional development agencies play. In many other ways, they support growth and the improvement of public services, which is why the CBI, the House Builders Federation and many others are so appalled at Conservative proposals to abolish regional development agencies and the essential role they play.

Is the Secretary of State not completely right to say that local authorities have improved enormously over the past few years, because most of them are now Tory-controlled?

The reason why local authority services have improved is that real spending and real investment by central Government in local authorities has improved by 37 per cent. over the past 10 years. That is a sharp contrast with the 7 per cent. real-terms reduction when the Conservatives were last in power. Local government has improved because for the first time there has been comprehensive and effective inspection and accountability of those services, and I am proud of the role that this Government have played with local councils of all parties in improving the quality of services to local people.