“MORE POWERS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT” CALL
The leaders of Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark councils have called on government to devolve more powers to local government in London, claiming that London has been left out of recent discussions.
Citing their joint community budget, which they say is proving hugely successful at helping hard to place people into work as evidence, the leaders spoke about the advantages of small groups of councils working together to tackle specific issues that they have in common.
Talking to an engaged audience from a range of sectors including local government, education, private and voluntary sectors Lambeth council leader Cllr Lib Peck explained how the broad brush government approach to getting people into work through the Work Programme had failed those who are harder to place.
“Not only have 50 people been helped into work through the programme in its first seven months, they have also been helped with other issues that might make it harder to hold down a job, such as debt and insecure housing.”
The south London community budget is one of several projects around the country being supported by the Public Sector Transformation Network, a government programme which encourages organisations to work together to deliver place-based services.
Ultimately the projects should reduce the cost of services to the public purse by spending money more effectively; in this case, getting people into sustained employment will reduce the need for benefits, as well as helping the individual and their family.
Key to the success of the Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark project has been the links between the three councils and Job Centre Plus. Anyone entering the service is allocated a key worker who then guides them through an intensive process examining their personal barriers to work and finding ways to overcome them.
“Our services sit around the people” says Cllr Peck. “Government is too far away to provide this kind of support, and the figures support this.”
The three councils are now developing plans for a joint committee under s101 of the Local Government Act 1972. The committee will have a legal basis and allow the three boroughs to make joint decisions on a range of delegated functions. (Source: Lambeth council press release.)