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Association for Public Service Excellence
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Time for some trust, powers and resources for local government

Local government faces a triumvirate of hugely important announcements in the coming months which will have major ramifications for its role, responsibilities and resources in the short, mid and long term.

 

By the end of October, the Chancellor should have announced the findings of a three-year Comprehensive Spending Review, setting out the UK’s priorities for public spending. At present spending departments are submitting proposals to Treasury as to how they intend to tackle a raft of public policy conundrums as well as deliver public services over the period to meet need. Treasury’s role is to identify synergy across Government priorities to maximise the spending of limited resources.

 

Concern remains for local government over the potential focus on headline capturing capital announcements while the revenue that so many of the frontline services rely on continues to deteriorate. For councils, the pressure also continues to build on covid recovery, reshaping our high streets, digital transformation, the care economy and the housing crisis, to name just a few headaches.

 

COP26 in Glasgow will fill the world headlines the first few weeks in November, with announcements regarding the drive to net zero and proposals on how we can ensure that the vision becomes a reality in the long term. Responding to climate will remain the dominant public policy issue for the next couple of decades. Many councils have made ambitious declarations and set out action plans to pursue the ambition of net zero. However, to achieve decarbonisation to the scale required, councils need powers to act and resources to deliver.

 

In December, local government will likely hear news on what its annual financial settlement is for the coming year. The initial enthusiasm for the recent social care funding announcements didn’t last too long, once the fine detail was examined, and there are fears that a flat settlement would mean another set of cuts in real terms. With inflation rising and a workforce in need of a decent reward, local government has a strong case for increased funding, especially when you consider its heroics during the pandemic.

 

Some big decisions, which will be fundamental to the role of local government, have to be made and the clock is ticking. Is local government to remain a play thing for central government to experiment and tinker with or is it going to be given the trust, powers and resources to crack on and deliver real progress for the country? The next few months will tell.

 

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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