12.6 million Whitehall boxes for councils to tick
- Published on Tuesday, 12 April 2011 14:21
- Posted by Scott Buckler
The average council has to tick an estimated 12.6 million boxes a year to meet the bureaucratic demands of central Government, the Local Government Association can reveal(April 12th)
A new study into Whitehall’s data burden on councils has identified that the average single tier authority is required to report 43,000 different pieces of information. Some of that reporting requires the entry of tens-of-thousands of individual facts covering every pupil, householder receiving benefits, or resident using a particular service in a local area, taking the total number of data entries to more than 12 million.
The LGA is calling for this time consuming and costly burden to be slashed. It is estimated that on average it costs each council £1.8 million each year in staff time and other resources to collate and report this information. A recent study by Leicestershire County Council revealed that it took the equivalent of 27 full time staff to carry out the task of reporting data to Whitehall, at an annual cost of £1.2 million.
The LGA report comes out ahead of the release by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) of the Single Data List which aims to provide a list of all the data returns central government expects local government to provide.
Baroness Margaret Eaton, LGA Chairman, said:
“Local government is widely regarded as the most efficient part of the public sector. Councils need to be freed from the box ticking demands of Whitehall departments in order to become even more streamlined.
“Councils are doing everything they can to protect frontline services from cuts to their budgets. Last year town halls delivered more than £1.6 billion of savings through measures like merging back offices and joining forces with other councils to get cheaper terms from suppliers. Currently more than 200 local authorities are in the process of entering shared services arrangements with neighbouring councils to bring down management costs. Local authorities need to see that level of endeavour matched in Whitehall.
“The time consuming and costly burden of collecting and reporting data into the black hole of Whitehall bureaucracy is simply unsustainable. The local government workforce will be reduced by 140,000 posts this year in order to save money for frontline services. That reduction in staff needs to be matched, if not bettered, by a reduction in the box ticking demands being placed on councils, so staff can focus their energy on delivering the more than 700 local services residents want and need.
“We eagerly await the release of CLG’s Single Data List and hope it signals the start of a concerted and ongoing attempt to reduce the data reporting burden currently on local authorities.”