Posted tagged ‘targets’

Right to Build

May 24, 2012

Last month the government relaunched a scheme which has been more controversial than most schemes to emenate out of Whitehall over the years: Right to Buy. Finding its roots way back in the distant past (well, the 80s), this scheme encourages council tenants to take their first steps onto the home ownership ladder through providing a discount should they want to purchase their council owned home.

Apparently, over 2m social homes have been bought by their tenants since the schemes first incarnation, although in recent years this number has tailed off dramatically (only 4000 purchases of this type happened in 2011). Whilst primarily this is down to the tough economic times, it is also down to the fact that the value of the discount fell so heavily. In London for example, the discount fell from 53% way down to 10%, which is a real pain when property prices have increased from £16,493 in the year of the Silver Jubilee to £354,300 during this year’s royal celebrations.

I have very mixed feelings on this issue, and quite a split between my personal and my professional minds. On the one hand Right to Buy is a way for council tenants to grasp on by their fingernails to the property ladder, something which over the years has become tougher to do. With many seeing home ownership as an aspiration, any way of helping can only be seen as a good thing.

However, speaking less selfishly I’m pretty concerned at the current state of affairs. Part of this stems from the scheme itself, but mostly on its impact on the quantity and quality of housing stock remaining and being built to make up for purchased property’s loss. (more…)

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.

Is Cold Turkey the Answer?

September 20, 2010

Derren Brown once did a TV show where he got a poor young girl to electrocute a kitten in a box, just by telling her not to do it.  Well, I say electrocute, of course it wasn’t real but she wasn’t to know this.  All he did was strip back a few layers of personality from her and tell her not to press the button or the kitten would fry.

Well, recently I saw this in action local government style.  I was sat in a meeting with people from all over London, listening to a presentation from DCLG on the Big Society.  It was a very interesting talk, and showed a few glimpses of what the future may or may not hold for us over the next 18 months or so.

After listening for a bit we got to the questions and answers stage, which is where things got amusing.  One of my colleagues asked about targets for the Big Society; how will we know if it is a success.  They wanted to know what numbers they should be hitting, how the measurements should be done and what indicators might flag a successful or failing authority.

The response she received was simple: there will be no targets.  No indicators, no percentage increases, no RAG reports – nothing.  The only measure or not as to whether it succeeds will be whether the current government gets re-elected next time around. (more…)

Are the kids alright?

August 24, 2010

Lazy, good for nothing time wasters.  No, this isn’t a deserved rant against the England football team, it is paraphrasing the message delivered recently which discussed the productivity of local authority workers (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11034769)

To quote directly:  “Junior staff in local authorities are, on average, productive only 32% of the time during working hours.”  It said this compares with an average of 44% in the private sector, the argument being therefore that we could shed 500,000 jobs and see no difference in service delivery.

(more…)