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Blog from Paul O'Brien

March 20, 2012
Challenging times call for well thought out solutions

Having met with three very different local government chief executives recently I was struck by the commonality of understanding of the challenges that council’s face in the coming years. Fiona Lees from East Ayrshire, Manjeet Gill from West Lindsey and Carolyn Downs of the LGA all shared a vision that the answers to the tough times ahead would be found in working closely with and within local communities.

With demographic change towards people living longer we know that a smaller percentage will be working in the future and that there will be greater demands for care services amongst an increasing elderly population. With increasing social problems created by alcohol and drugs, the number of children being looked after is also rising.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: Local government, Communities, economic development
March 9, 2012
Market volatility

With a huge amount of market volatility at present, is now really the right time for local government to be looking to the private sector for solutions?

The names Southern Cross, Connaught, ROK and Fountain have probably done more damage to the outsourcing agenda in local government than the collective writings of opponents of this approach since the dawning of Compulsory Competitive Tendering 30 years ago. Throw in recent headlines around A4e and you can see that for an industry that works so hard on its image, the last couple of years have not been a great time.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: public Value, APSE
February 27, 2012
The business case for going green

Copy of an article Neil McInroy from CLES and myself recently did for Public Finance magazine.

Councils should be leading the way with renewable energy schemes. They can reap important economic and social rewards as well as environmental benefits

A report published this week by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) suggests there is still a business case for local government-led renewable energy schemes.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: APSE, CLES, renewables, FIT's, Solar, local government, public finance
January 13, 2012
Tough times for local government in 2012

If local government thought 2011 was tough, 2012 may be about to get a whole lot tougher. With an estimated 145,000 job losses in councils over the previous 12 months, some may have thought the heavy lifting had been done. However, my fear is that whilst many have made significant progress in efficiency programmes, this may prove difficult to sustain – and the knock-on effect for councils that didn’t quite get there in year one could be catastrophic. With ongoing redundancies, wage freezes, rising pension payments and inflation remaining relatively high, morale will be near the floor.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: APSE, Local government
January 6, 2012
Green light for better asset management

APSE’s first strategic forum of the New Year took place last night on the theme of energy efficiency in asset management. Guest speaker was David Kilduff, Head of the Commercial Group at Walker Morris Solicitors, who gave an overview of the issues facing local government in this area.

These events are used as an opportunity to develop policy and share knowledge.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: energy efficiency, asset management, environment, renewables, David Kilduff, Walker Morris, green deal, pensions, Eric Pickles, APSE
December 1, 2011
Holding democracy dear

Many local authorities are considering the alternative models of service delivery that exist as part of their on-going plans to deal with the financial austerity they face over coming years. Issues that should be close to the top of any list when weighing up the pros and cons of each option are governance and accountability.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: Governance, Accountability, Localism, local government, austerity, procurement, , elected members, APSE
November 16, 2011
Insourcing Bradford’s Education Services

I recently met with colleagues from Bradford Council to discuss how they had been involved in Insourcing the City’s Education Services from Serco. 1,300 staff were transferred back to the authority in July this year from a £53m per annum contract.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: APSE, Insourcing, Bradford
November 14, 2011
A pause before feeding on renewables recommences

Although many Armageddon prophecies have been written about the coalition Government’s proposed cut to Feed in Tariffs for solar PV and its impact on the wider renewables agenda, I have to say that I don’t quite buy this vision of the future.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: APSE, FIT's, feed in tariffs, renewables, solar PV, solar PV
October 20, 2011
Expanding your competitive edge

Now that we are over halfway through the financial year, more and more councils are revisiting plans they have made to generate efficiency savings to see if they will stack up and achieve their desired outcome for this year and beyond.

At APSE, we have noticed an upsurge in enquiries about how you make remaining services more commercially viable by either reducing costs or generating additional revenue to offset budget cuts. This suggests that councils are concerned they may fail to meet existing targets and are attempting a ‘take two’.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: Efficiency, commercialism, APSE, Charging, Trading, income generation
September 15, 2011
Alternative models of service delivery - a price worth paying?

A huge debate is taking place at present about which are the best models available to divest public services through. I have got to say I remain to be convinced. Whatever service options local authorities decide to pursue in future the benchmark against which to appraise the options is the existing in-house service. Does any alternative form of provision meet or surpass the benefits that managing services directly yourself brings.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: in-house services, APSE, Public Services, local economies, Local government

Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.

           

 

          

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