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Northgate calls for end to ‘winner takes all' Planning Delivery Grant allocations

The government’s proposed method for assessing Planning Delivery Grant (PDG) allocations is stacked in favour of wealthier local authorities and could widen the digital divide, according to Northgate Information Solutions.

In a response to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s consultation, Planning Delivery Grant: proposed allocations criteria 2007-8, Northgate called for the introduction of a more sophisticated assessment process that takes into account the socio-economic circumstances of different local authorities.

Under the current proposals, grant allocations are based on measures such as percentage of applications received online, automatically disadvantaging councils in poorer areas which are characterised by much lower use of technology. The success measures relating to e-planning also appear so high as to exclude local authorities already facing difficulties in tackling the digital divide.

This compounds the ‘scale effect’ already recognised by the government, where authorities with larger budgets handling high numbers of applications are able to perform better and receive larger PDG awards.

Dave Meaden, Managing Director of Northgate Public Services, said today:
“Northgate welcomes the government’s emphasis on measuring quality rather than speed within planning departments, but we are concerned that the measures proposed remain stacked in favour of the larger local authorities.

“It adds up to a ‘winner takes all’ Planning Delivery Grant regime which imposes a national system operating to the disadvantage of the poorest authorities that need it most. We would like to see the introduction of allocations criteria that takes into account the particular circumstances of different local authorities and that can support continuous improvement in each and every planning department.”

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For more information:

Fellows’ Associates
Kathy Sutton 020 7092 1801; 07966 890401; ksutton@fellowsassociates.com
Alastair Whitehead 020 7092 1806; 07930 566291; awhitehead@fellowsassociates.com


Notes to Editors:

1. Northgate is a technology company with a difference. It is committed to high quality public services and understands the public sector. That knowledge is core to its business. Northgate’s task is to enhance public sector value through intelligent use of people and information technology systems and to share in the economic and social benefits that this brings.

2. Northgate provides planning and e-planning solutions to local authorities across the UK, helping them to provide responsive services whilst reducing administration.