A new virtual 'Co-operative Academy' which supports the design and implementation of Oldham City Council's emerging co-operative model is amongst one of several recommendations made by an RSA report.
Launched by Jon Cruddas MP, Oldham's Co-operative Council: A new model for local government concludes that the local authority needs to clarify how its plan to devolve millions of pounds from its budget, along with 500 frontline staff, to six defined districts, will affect public service delivery.
The report argues that whilst the council should be applauded for its bold approach towards reducing the impact of cuts to public spending, that a number of challenges towards realising its co-operative vision still remain. The report recommends that the council:
Introduces a clear 'roadmap for change' through which its citizens can hold the local authority to account
Offers partners a 'new co-operative deal', setting out the commitments expected from citizens, public sector organisations and local businesses
Carries out a spending and growth review for social productivity in Oldham in the run up to HM Treasury's 2013 Spending Review
Strengthens the Local Leaders Programme, including more support for councillors and better use of new technology
Commenting on the report Ben Lucas, principal partner at the 2020 Public Services Hub at the RSA, said:
"At the end of a party conference season in which the message from politicians has been that 'we are all in this together' in 'one nation', Oldham Council are providing a practical example of how co-operation might work. At a time when public services face huge fiscal and demand pressures, and the economy continues to flatline, councils like Oldham show how you can combine public service reform with economic growth".
The report sets out the key elements of Oldham's move toward a co-operative council, including:
Reducing demand for public services
Devolving budgets and decision making to districts and civic groups
Moving from a traditional municipal role to one of community leadership