Sir Andrew said the government had to hold its nerve and ‘let go’ of local public service provision.
Complaining that change had been driven too much by central government, he told the CIPFA national conference, public faith in local service provision could be restored if authorities were given greater autonomy from top down decisions.
But to repay this trust local authorities will need to motivate their staff to focus on the service users and measure improvements in provision.
‘It is important to demonstrate to a sceptical world improvements in local services,’ Sir Andrew said.
He added that as politicians needed to trust local managers, so those managers would have to give frontline staff greater autonomy in how services were delivered. Above all a focus on the users of local services should be pursued ‘rigorously and ruthlessly’.
Sir Andrew also revealed plans for the reorganisation of the Audit Commission, saying it would become a more ‘joined up’ organisation.
In particular, he outlined the need to bring together the audit and inspection processes at the commission, creating unified teams for both Best Value inspections and local authority audit work.
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