Whitehall cracks public services whip

22 Jul 99
A central government crackdown that will allow greater ministerial intervention into failing schools, councils and police authorities was formally outlined this week.

23 July 1999

New guidelines, published on July 21, allow ministers to intervene if national standards are not met or deteriorate, if costs are continually high, or following a critical inspection.

Home Secretary Jack Straw said the Intervention Protocols, signed by ministers and local government leaders, would lead to improved public services.

Local government minister Hilary Armstrong agreed, saying what mattered was 'high-quality services'. She added that if councils embraced Best Value, the need for intervention would be 'minimal'.

Meanwhile, intervention into schools' standards is further ahead, with ministers having already taken action in the London Boroughs of Hackney and Islington, and Liverpool.

The protocols will form part of the Local Government Act, which is expected to receive Royal Assent next week.

Ministers hold up the intervention rules as an example of the new partnership between Westminster and local authorities, stressing that all sides share the aim of improving services. But critics will portray them as showing ministers' determination not to leave public services to their own devices.


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