31 January 2008 | Paul Snell
Establishing the credibility of the new Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships (RIEPs) among councils is one of the main targets of the new chair of the Chief Executives' Task Force.
Joyce Redfearn, the leader of Wigan Council, has taken up the role as head of the task force, which provides support to the Regional Centres of Excellence (RCE) and Regional Improvement Partnerships (RIPs). She will lead the group as the RCE and RIPs merge to form the RIEPs by 1 April.
This month John Healey, minister for local government, promised £185 million of funding for the RIEPs to help councils meet savings targets. Local government is expected to achieve savings of nearly £5 billion by 2011.
"We want to ensure the RIEPs establish themselves as credible bodies both for local and central government," Redfearn said.
"We are consulting with each region about what works for them. It won't look the same in each region, it's not one size fits all and they will be much more connected." And as someone who doesn't have a purchasing background, she said buying in local government should be everyone's responsibility. "We're all in the business of procurement. It is a part of everybody's role in a local authority. Clearly for all it is about increasing cost efficiency and the slowing down of the financial resources available."
She said there will be a more devolved approach to supporting councils, with suggestions coming from buyers, and the task force identifying opportunities for councils to work together and spread best practice. "It will be a devolved agenda, not a divided one."