The DCLG have published their Annual Report.
These are the key achievements over the past year:
On tackling the budget deficit…
- immediate savings of £780m in planned Departmental spending and £1.166bn in planning local government spending
- implemented efficiency measures to cut waste, and cancelled the planned local government restructuring
- embarked upon a Change Programme to reduce the size of the Department
- closed the Government Offices for the Regions, and began reducing the number of Arms Length Bodies by two thirds.
On decentralising power as far as possible…
- published an essential guide to decentralisation
- abolished Comprehensive Area Assessments, reduced reporting requirements on councils and announced plans to end the centralised Standards Board regime
- abolished regional strategies and dismantled regional leaders’ boards
- ended Regional Management Boards and removed 700 outdated operational guides for the fire and rescue services
- undertook a review of statutory duties on councils and compiled a single list of data requirements to help identify further burdens that could be removed
- implemented a fair settlement for local government funding alongside greater powers
- successfully encouraged all councils to freeze their council tax for 2011-12
- established community budgets in 16 areas to help families with multiple problems.
On reinvigorating accountability, democracy and participation…
- established 35 Local Enterprise Partnerships
- announced plans to disband the Audit Commission
- engaged council workers on reducing local government burdens, and launched a barrier busting portal and the Big Society vanguard areas
- scrapped bin taxes
- introduced a Localism Bill to Parliament to provide new freedoms for local government, new rights for local communities, make the planning system clearer and more democratic, and ensure decisions about housing are taken locally
- worked with the Home Office on plans to restrict the use of surveillance powers by councils.
On increasing transparency…
- published Departmental spending each month for transactions over £500
- ensured that nearly all principal local authorities in England publish their spending over £500
- reduced duplication by creating a single list of every address across the country
- gave the public sector free access to government mapping data
- published new publicity rules for councils.
On meeting people’s housing aspirations…
- launched a powerful new housing incentive, the New Homes Bonus
- committed significant funding to provide support for the homeless, and overhauled how rough sleepers are counted
- provided £4.5bn for new affordable homes and introduced a new Affordable Rent Model
- maintained the Mortgage Rescue Scheme
- introduced a FirstBuy equity loan scheme to support first time buyers
- provided £1.6bn to deliver decent council homes
- announced reforms to implement the self-financing of council housing
- cancelled planned changes to building standards that would have cost developers around £8,000 extra for every home built
- reduced bureaucracy for landlords by removing the need for planning permission when subdividing a house into multiple units
- suspended Home Information Packs
- provided reassurance that there will be no Council Tax revaluation in the next five years
- published guidance on reducing street clutter and signs
- ended limits on car spaces for new homes and removed guidance that encouraged higher parking charges
- simplified the process for holding street parties.
On putting communities in charge of planning…
- announced an overhaul and simplification of planning policy, including neighbourhood planning and a presumption in favour of sustainable development
- announced plans to abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission
- put in place plans to free councils to set their own planning fees
- took action to tackle ‘garden grabbing’ by removing gardens from the brownfield planning category.
On delivering growth and deregulation…
- took an important new role on growth as part of Budget 2011 and the Government’s Growth Review
- committed £890m to the Regional Growth Fund
- cancelled backdated business rate liabilities on certain businesses, including ports
- doubled small business rate relief
- announced plans to review the Department’s stock of building, planning and housing regulations through the Red Tape Challenge.
On wider responsibilities…
- published the Government’s response to the sector-led review of the fire and rescue services
- closed the FiReControl Project
- re-launched the ’Fire Kills’ safety campaign
- published a new localist approach to regeneration, including a toolkit to assist local authorities, communities and civil society organisations
- announced plans to pass powers to local authorities in the Thames Gateway
- announced plans to give the Mayor of London the power to establish a Mayoral Development Corporation, to take forward the long term legacy of the 2012 Olympics
- announced a £30m funding package to help drive out inequality and deprivation from coalfield areas
- re-affirmed the Government’s commitment to zero carbon by announcing a definition for zero carbon homes.