We can’t go on like this...Follow @pwc_ukgov
By Andy Ford, Local Government Partner
There is growing realisation within local government that austerity will continue for some years. Our recent survey of local leadership shows that councils have been remarkably successful so far in finding savings in a way that has largely protected front-line services and many are confident that they can repeat that in the immediate future.
But the pressures are so great that fear for the future is growing. Four out of five chief executives and leaders said they believed one or more councils could experience a significant financial crisis by 2015, with 70% of chief executives and 80% of leaders believing that one or more councils could fail to deliver essential services.
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This raises the question what might the council of the future look like to meet challenges like these head on? "Commissioning councils’, ‘mutuals’, ‘social enterprises’ and ‘big society’ have all entered the lexicon of local government language. While councils appear to be adopting different models, one common theme for the council of the future is that it will be smaller and employ fewer staff.
Our survey found that 81% of leaders and 68% of chief executives expect to be involved in significant partnerships with other agencies for the delivery of local public services and outcomes. They also expect there will be less direct service delivery and more commissioning of service. Only 34% of chief executives thought their council would continue to deliver most services in the future.
Continued financial pressures for the foreseeable future and uncertainty about the end state mean that councils increasingly need to demonstrate ever-greater flexibility and agility in how they operate. The predominant model for the future is likely to be the emergence of the agile council – a council with clean, simple and standardised structures and processes, aligned to an operating model that responds quickly and successfully to local, social and economic changes. For more on what this could look like, click the link and read on...
Contact Andy Ford