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Future of Public Sector Partnerships - response from ODPM

Thank you for your letter of 10 January to David Miliband about your concerns regarding the various reviews of public service boundaries. I have been asked to reply.

Let me say that we appreciate the importance of these issues and are in close contact with the Department of Health, the Home Office and colleagues in Education. We all recognise that that the various restructuring proposals are a major opportunity to simplify and streamline service delivery and ensure better and more coherent partnership working. In ODPM we certainly recognise that this period of ongoing change in the organisation of the administrative structures supporting many of our public services has major implications for local government and that everyone in central government - and indeed in local government - has a responsibility to think cohesively about how we run local services and govern at local level.

I can assure that the principles established by Surrey LGA which you attach all factor in Government thinking. In the future local authorities will need to develop their role of engaging with and leading their local communities - as part of this we certainly see a role for them in co-ordinating public services in an area, by bringing together the relevant public agencies to agree strategies, pool budgets, appoint directors etc. Local Strategic Partnerships provide the over-arching framework within which local authorities can fulfil this role.

In both Police and Health restructurings one of the criterion is the need for coterminosity with local authority boundaries. We are fully signed up to achieving Government objectives such as improved service delivery and effective social care through close and joint work by the NHS, Police Forces, Learning and Skills and Local Government. We think coterminosity is key to developing this agenda further and that we must make use of the opportunities afforded by the various restructuring exercises as well as through joint working through Local Area Agreements, joint posts and joint commissioning arrangements. And it goes without saying that the reviews of structures are about achieving efficiencies in all senses of the word.

You state that you are disappointed that these issues were not explored in the recent consultation looking at the role of Local Strategic Partnerships 'Local Strategic Partnerships: Shaping their future'. In the consultation we state that 'the geographic boundaries of partners within LSPs are important' and specifically ask what people see as the main barriers to, and opportunities presented by, shared geographic boundaries. As stated above we are working to shape the results of the ongoing reviews of the difference public sector agencies to ensure the resulting structures better enable coherent partnership working. The results of these reviews together with responses to the consultation will of course then need to be factored into the forthcoming Local Government White Paper and any revised guidance for Local Strategic Partnerships.







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Last update:  04/08/2008
Author:          Nick Goulder, Director


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