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United Kingdom/ 3. Competence, decision-making and administration  

3.3 Inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation

The UK Government of New Labour (1997-2010) was committed to ensuring greater co-ordination between government departments and between tiers of governance to ensure effective delivery of policy. This related both to cultural matters and to cross-cutting issues such as social exclusion (e.g. areas of poverty and deprivation, disaffected young people, ethnic minority groups). It is presumed the new government (May 2010) will wish to continue this, although budgetary reductions may impact on this.

In 2008 the government published a new strategic approach to the creative industries - Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy. This document indicates 26 commitments for government and industry, and was produced jointly by three government departments - the Department of Culture, Media & Sport, the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

The UK Government is committed to working with local government to ensure effective delivery of policy. As such, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport introduced a number of initiatives, in joint partnership with local delivery partners, to bring about a better quality of life for local communities.

The Local Government White Paper, Strong and Prosperous Communities, published in October 2006, declared the government's ambition to create strong, safe and prosperous communities throughout England by reforming the relationship between central government and local government and its partners through a new more streamlined local performance framework. A key element included new statutory Local Area Agreements (LAA's). Local Area Agreements (LAAs) are 3-year agreements (2008-2011) between Central Government and the local authority and its partners setting out the priorities for the local area. The LAA includes up to 35 priority indicators chosen from the 188 priorities in the National Indicator Set (NIS) and any other additional indicators and targets (either from the 188 or otherwise) as local priorities. DCMS has four indicators within the NIS:

  • NI 8: Adult participation in sport and active recreation.
  • NI 9: Use of public libraries.
  • NI 10: Visits to museums and galleries.
  • NI 11: Engagement in the Arts.

As part of the new local performance framework, a new monitoring system was introduced - Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA) - to replace the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA). The last CPA results were published by the Audit Commission in March 2009. CAA provides an opportunity for local authorities and their partners to demonstrate how culture and sport makes a difference in local communities and how it contributes to the local council's priorities and LAA improvement targets. It is unclear how the monitoring of local performance will operate given the reductions in staff and budgets at national and local levels.

The DCMS and its NDPBs support the work of the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG). They aim to bring about the renewal of neighbourhoods, building community cohesion in disadvantaged and excluded communities. In 2006, DCMS and CLG launched a joint initiative to bring together government-sponsored agencies to promote the value of culture to the creation of strong sustainable communities. The project, called Living Places, has also involved Arts Council England, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, English Heritage and Sport England. Working with local authorities and developers, it aims to ensure all communities, particularly those facing housing-led growth and regeneration, have access to good quality cultural and sporting opportunities as a fundamental part of community provision. The programme has a national scope and is overseen and advised by a Steering Board. Within this national remit, the programme has a special focus on five Priority Places, used by partners as test-beds for on-the-ground delivery. These are Pennine Lancashire, Corby, the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire, the Thames Gateway, and the South West region.

Living Places is now also the official home of the Culture and Sport Planning Toolkit (CSPT); this is the product of an innovative national project funded by the government's Invest To Save initiative, to provide a set of tools that ensures culture and sport are embedded in the sustainable communities' agenda at a local level. The toolkit builds on and links with existing good practice. Launched in March 2009, it is currently being disseminated through training workshops and seminars, and seeking to prove its value to planners, developers and local authorities in all parts of the country. It will be updated to ensure it remains relevant.

The Sea Change programme is led by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) on behalf of DCMS with funding being made available to seaside resorts in England during the three year period from 2008 to 2011. Sea Change aims to stimulate wider improvements and economic regeneration in disadvantaged coastal resorts through specific investment in creative and innovative culture and heritage projects. By the end of March 2009, grants totalling over GBP 29 million had been allocated to 28 resorts to create new performance spaces, improve theatres, restore promenades, enable spectacular beach-front redesigns and provide new exhibition spaces.

In Northern Ireland, one of DCAL's Arms Length Bodies, The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, consults regularly with district councils on the exercise of its functions through the Forum for Local Government and the Arts (FLGA). In this regard the Arts Council instituted a GBP 2.4 million Challenge Fund in 2004, over four years, to support local organisations and projects on the basis of priorities agreed with local authorities. The primary purpose of the Challenge Fund, known as "The Art of Regeneration", was to encourage local authorities to work collaboratively by strengthening and deepening existing or new partnerships to help meet some of the social challenges facing Northern Ireland society. The Council is using the Challenge Fund to engage local authorities and to put the arts and artists at the heart of regeneration.

In the area of minority languages, support is shared between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (the North / South Language Body), and Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland (ICC / Colmcille, the Columba Initiative) to ensure that language protection and encouragement is integrated and aligned. The British Irish Council (a forum of co-operation and information sharing between representatives of the British and Irish Governments, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) has a subgroup on minority and lesser-used languages which meets to discuss issues of mutual interest and agree co-operation on minority language issues.

Chapter published: 15-04-2011

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