Posted tagged ‘LAA’

What profit do we measure?

April 12, 2012

But you can't fire me, I work for local government!

Wednesday night in our house is Apprentice night, when it’s time to snuggle up on the sofa and revel in the personality switches which take place as colleagues working together for success turn on each other to protect their own backsides.

This fight for survival may be worthy of a post in its own right, but what’s interesting me at the moment is one element of how the unlucky victim and recipient of the dreaded catchphrase is chosen. Throughout the current series it’s been a simple target; profit. When running a business (as the contestants all do here) this seems fair enough, as that is after all one of their ultimate goals.

Profit, especially as it is simplified nicely on the show, separates the succesful from the failures, acts as a clear line between who has achieved the highest goals and who hasn’t and provides a clear barometer of meeting targets. It often doesn’t matter so much how they get there, how much is spent on the way or the feelings of those involved; it’s cold, hard profit which rules the roost.

In the world of local government, things are nowhere near as straightforward. Profit is not a goal which is desirable, and indeed can be seen by many as a sign that something is not being done properly. Money is assigned to service areas based on real or perceived needs, political whims or historical inertia, rather than on the basis of which investment offers the greatest potential return on investment for the balance sheets.

We in local government under this administration measure our success otherwise. In the old days of Local Area Agreements we were measured against literally hundreds of targets and goals, which in turn were measured against perceptions from the public or centrally set figures. Both of these were to a greater or lesser extent based on what one group of people or another thought success looked like, or at least what failure was. (more…)

What goes around comes around… again and again!

July 13, 2011

Is it Deja vu or just the natural product of being in local government for more than 5 years?

I must be getting old.  I am certainly not in the first flush of youth, and neither can I see the ‘gold plated’ pension in the near distance.  However, I have had a real sense of déjà vu in the last few days as that latest ideas seem to be going with the things that we tried a few years ago.

It all started for me with Local Area Agreements, that idea that encouraged local areas to work together to improve outcomes, and those that were able to deliver stretch performance received performance reward grant.  This is still a noble idea and should have provoked partners into working together.

In the experience of this guest blogger though, this just led organisations to ensure that their pet projects were funded through the pump priming grant and that they got their fair share of the reward grant.  This was an opportunity to rewire the system and organise around the needs of people who needed our services.

Fast forward to last week where Mr Guest Blogger here was hearing about the need to deliver locally integrated services which organised around the needs of individuals and broke down organisational boundaries, with those service funded by community level budgets.

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Abolishing the Performance Indicators

October 14, 2010

Abolished Quangos and indicators in the morning; now, what's for lunch?

Eric Pickles has announced that he will be abolishing all Local Area Agreements (LAA) and the National Indicator data set.

(Obviously, the flip side of this is that he is also abolishing the grants that went with meeting those LAA targets.)

In the place of the national indicators the Government will ask for local government to prepare and submit a series of different data sets.

The assumption here is that it is not the collection of the data that puts unnecessary costs on Local Government but the bending of services to meet the targets and the number crunching that follows to turn the data into performance indicators. A lot will depend on how simple Mr Pickles data requests will be.

I reckon that the savings from not collecting these targets will be smaller than Mr Pickles believes but that this symbolises a welcome retreat by the central government. Whether local government can rise to the challenge is an open question especially in times Osbourne enacted cuts but for the first time in a long time this offers local government a fighting chance to innovate and plough their own furrow in response to specific local needs.