asked Her Majesty's Government:
What changes they propose to make to the policies and working arrangements of the Department for Children, Schools and Families following the signing of the Central–Local Concordat on 12 December 2007, both in general and in specific response to the agreement in the concordat (a) that “there should be a presumption that powers are best exercised at the lowest effective and practical level”; (b) that central government undertakes to “progressively remove obstacles which prevent councils from pursuing their role, including reducing the burden of appraisal and approval regimes, the ring-fencing of funds for specific purposes and the volume of guidance it issues”, (c) that the number of national indicators should be “around 200”; (d) that in relation to the negotiation of new-style local area agreements “this objective will require major changes in behaviour and practice from central government departments, their agencies, government offices, councils and local partners”; and what is the process and timetable for such changes. [HL1725]
The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) is fully committed to the principles set out in the Central-Local Concordat, including in particular the new performance management arrangements for local authorities and their partners, based on a single set of 198 national indicators and a limited number of targets agreed in local area agreements (LAAs). The new system of comprehensive area assessment will significantly reduce the burden of inspection for children's services from next year; DCSF has contributed over £1 billion of funding to the new, un-ring-fenced area based grant for 2008-09; and the number of targets DCSF agrees with local authorities will be significantly reduced from April by the transition to new LAAs. DCSF is currently working closely with other government departments, government offices, national agencies and others to agree the new LAAs with local authorities and their partners by June.