A National Audit Office survey focused on the development of messaging between central and local government has revealed claims that central government ‘did not understand local government priorities, structures and business’.
The report acknowledged successes including a Department for Communities and Local Government website and newsletter. However, it also claimed some policy consultation was ‘rushed’, with local government staff left ‘exasperated’ by the ‘poor signposting’ of some comms received from departments.
The report also highlighted that the Department for Work and Pensions has given local authorities the least opportunity to respond to consultation processes.
According to the NAO, 744,000 emails were sent by central government departments and agencies to local government in March 2012.
Tim Hamilton, head of public affairs and campaigns at the Local Government Association, said: ‘We observe anecdotally that the messaging can be disjointed and if this was resolved their messages would get through in a clearer manner than they currently do.’
Hamilton added that involving local government earlier with decisions would ‘lessen confusion’ and help the shaping of messaging.
However, a DCLG spokesman chose to respond by focusing on the positive findings in the report, stating: ‘It is reassuring to learn that channels such as our website, info4local and our local authority chief executive newsletter are regarded as best practice. We will continue to build on these successes.’