In his first major speech as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles will tell the Local Government Association that they need to axe non-jobs and share back office services. He also promises a shake-up of his own Whitehall department and commits to publishing all of its own expenditures of £500 or more – a requirement already imposed on local government.
Pasted below are key previews of his remarks.
Attack on non-jobs: "Putting jobs on your website not only shows local people where their money is going. It will also enable them to question whether those jobs are really needed at all. What does an audience development officer do? Is a ‘cheerleading development officer’ what taxpayers want? One council is even advertising for someone to spin for their bins last week. I wonder whether their residents actually want a ‘communications waste strategy officer’ or whether they’d prefer a few more bin men."
Back office functions should be shared: "Is it really right, in this day and age, to have separate planning departments? Lawyers? Communications teams? Wouldn’t it be better if people were working together? That’s especially important for the highest levels and the most expensive people. It’s obviously a bad week to raise things that Germany does better than us. But they’ve really got the idea in local government. Where they’ve ended up with Chief Executives and Executive Leaders doing more or less the same thing; they’ve flat out stopped it. It’s even got a word. My new favourite word. Doppelspitze. I’m interested to see whether we can follow suit here. Couldn’t chief execs bring more to the table by working across boundaries, rather than replicating what the leader should be doing?"
All DCLG spending of £500 or more will be put online: "Let me tell you a story. Two major Departments – which I’ll leave to your imagination – went to market on the same day for new electricity contracts. They didn’t speak to each other first. Instead of combining their purchasing power to drive prices down, suppliers played them off against each other. Prices actually went up. It’s no laughing matter when taxpayers’ money is going down the drain. So I’m going to put my own house in order now. DCLG will be putting all spending over £500 online too."
DCLG will be overhauled: "I’ll be shortly be publishing the plan to shake up my own Department. Previously it worked to make town halls deliver for Whitehall. Now we want to free you to deliver for the public. We’re not going to be micromanaging, second guessing, and interfering in your affairs any more. We’re going to get on and let you get on with it."
10am: Interesting Tweet from Local government minister Grant Shapps suggests Labour's spending will be exposed by £500 transparency rule: