14th January 2014
Over the past few weeks we’ve been focusing on how we can improve relationships between central and local government. As part of this series we’ve featured a number of guest posts and today I’m excited to say that we have a post written by someone who has worked in both local and central government; Claire Webb. And she has written a cracking post too with just hint of challenge to us all.
I’d signed the official secrets act and got slightly too excited about the “for your eyes only” option on the email system (I’m a James Bond fan, what can I say); and so began my two and a half year stint as a civil servant, on secondment from Southwark Council.
I had taken the secondment back in 2006 to get a better understanding of central government and make some contacts, which I did. What I hadn’t expected was to also learn so much more about the space which Chief Executives and Strategic Directors inhabit.
All credit to Communities & Local government for having local government secondees, but one swallow does not a summer make. The detachment of central policy making from what happens on the ground, was already familiar to me. Much of this is of course driven by what the politicians ask for and the perceived and accepted tools of central government, to demonstrate they have “done something” – legislation, regulation, and sub-regional contracting such as the work programme, all blunt instruments which rarely hit the mark. This is compounded by the silo working between different government departments, and even the teams within them.