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LGC Briefing: Two new brooms

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Today’s must-read comment and analysis

This week LGC’s opinion section featured two new heads of local government bodies setting out their stalls.

First up was the new Association of Directors of Adult Social Care president Harold Bodmer. Norfolk’s Mr Bodmer, who took over from Ray James last month, outlines the association’s priorities for the next few years.

Chief among those, Mr Bodmer says, are the social care workforce and the homecare market. No surprises there, then. He shares some alarming facts about the care workforce, including that a third of current staff have been in post for under a year, turnover is 30.6% and a fifth are within a decade of retirement. The other problem is the fragility of the homecare market, stemming in part from rising workforce costs. During his time in charge of Adass, Mr Bodmer pledges to promote care as a good career option and continue to pressure the government to fund care sustainably.

This week’s comms column also featured a new big cheese: Simon Jones, assistant director of communications at Haringey LBC and the latest chairman of LGcomms.

Mr Jones begins his column with a less-than-fond reminiscence, recalling his days as a rookie local newspaper reporter in the 1980s, when there were two ways to communicate with local authorities: ploughing through “indecipherable” committee papers, or hanging out with councillors in the pub and hoping for gossip.

Council communications are much better than that now, Mr Jones says, but there is a danger that, as authorities cut costs, this improvement could be lost. At the same time, councils must continue to evolve their comms, from “consultation to community, from internal comms to culture change, from marketing to a mindset where we understand much more about our audiences”, Mr Jones says. It is this challenge that he hopes to address during his chairmanship.

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