Yesterday I looked to the benefit of the CPS paper in terms of saving money. Another benefit of of the radical proposals for reduced duplication through localism would be in diminishing the burden of bureaucracy on the hapless British subject attempting to Kafkasque public sector layers. If the articulate middle class find it frustrating how much harder for those stuck at the bottom?

The report includes the following description of current arrangements in its section on welfare:

The benefits system is difficult to understand and does not adequately incentivise work. Housing Benefit, Job Seekers Allowance, Childcare Tax Credits are all managed and paid by separate organisations. This creates inefficiencies associated with the separate management and a lack of flexibility to set payments linked to the cost of living or other local circumstances. There are now over 50 benefits with no obvious overall framework and with little consideration of the interaction
of different benefits.

This highly complex system of benefits requires manuals and guidance notes running to thousands of pages. The DWP issues 14 manuals with about 8,690 pages, Housing and Council Tax Benefits are covered by four volumes with over 1,200 pages, HMRC issues a 260 page tax credit manual and this does not include the additional information contained in guidance notes, circulars, legal statues and statutory instruments. Research carried out by the London Borough of Barnet showed that an
unemployed person could have up to 31 annual contacts with officials who together collect only five pieces of additional information.

Too many agencies are involved in assessment and paying benefits (DWP, HMRC, local councils) and in employment support (DWP, RDAs, LSC, local councils, third sector). Jobcentre Plus and councils are both involved in assessing and paying benefits to the same clients. The result is repeated collection of data and disconnected benefits assessment and service provision.

There is also a multitude of quangos, committees, working groups and other agencies which have been set up in an attempt to deal with various aspects of joblessness. The following bodies operate in London alone: the London Skills and Employment Board, Child Poverty Working Groups, Capital Ambition programmes, various London Council committees, several sub-regional partnerships, City Strategy Pathfinders and Local Strategic Networks. All receive public funding but have been largely ineffective.

Do those sceptical of localism really believe such an approach could be worse than the current palaver?

3 comments for: Magna Carta for localism: Reducing bureaucracy

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