News & Views
Two-thirds of local authorities choose third sector indicators to meet performance targets
Back in October 2006, a new performance framework for monitoring and regulating local government was set out in chapter 6 of the Local Government White Paper Strong and Prosperous Communities.
Ruth Kelly, the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, explained in her introduction: ‘If we are to continue to improve public services we need to give local authorities and their partners the freedom and powers to meet the needs of their communities and to tackle complex cross-cutting issues like climate change, social exclusion and anti-social behaviour.’ Her successor, Hazel Blears, signed off the new Local Area Agreements (LAAs) on 30 June 2008.
One of the key elements of the framework includes a set of 198 National Indicators. These cover all the national priority outcomes which local authorities are responsible for delivering and each LAA has up to 35 of these targets agreed as priorities.
The two that focus on the third sector comprise NI 6, ‘Participation in regular volunteering’, and NI 7, ‘Environment for a thriving third sector’. Of the 150 toptier local authorities, 43 chose to make NI 6 one of their priorities while 61 picked NI 7, with 11 putting both indicators on their priority list. This means that almost two-thirds of local authorities have put the third sector among their top priorities.
Performance against the NI 6 will be measured using CLG’s Place Survey and NI 7 through the OTS’s new national survey of third sector organisations.
Phil Hope, Minister for the Third Sector, congratulated the councils that ‘recognised they need to do more to support and engage charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises’. He went on to add: ‘Neither of the third sector national indicators are easy options, but investment in them will be paid back many times over… a strong third sector will be a powerful partner in tackling other local priorities, from reducing social exclusion to promoting sport.’