I blogged recently about how localism needs effective community engagement to work well.
A newsworthy report by Deloitte this week has highlighted this as one of the main challenges identified by local authority chief executives, who are expected to be at the forefront of the localism drive.
Deloitte interviewed chief executives of 15 local authorities, who collectively manage a £7.4bn budget and employ more than 100,000 people, about their views on localism and the Big Society.
The Deloitte report finds that:
1. Twelve councils participating in the survey do not have a specific strategy in place to address localism.
2. Council chief executives view the engagement of local communities as a major challenge; in particular how to introduce governance and accountability mechanisms for local activity.
3. There is a lack of consensus on what localism actually means. Central government thinks it’s about reducing government control by devolving power to local communities. In contrast, local government expects an increase in its responsibilities.
4. To drive localism, local authority chief executives would like to see a stronger relationship established between local tax raising powers and locally provided services.
I’ve said before that communications can play a key role in this area, and this reports makes the same point (amongst others). It also underlines a real opportunity for local government communicators amongst a raft of challenges faced by the sector at the moment.