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LGC View: Ministers have more to do to push transformation

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All too often the people who seek to ensure public services are sustainable are lambasted as their destroyers. However, as Derek Myers and Pat Ritchie set out in their Service Transformation Challenge Panel report, nothing could be further from the truth.

As budgets contract still further, our best hope of ensuring adequate ongoing provision is to innovate and develop new delivery models, based on outcomes for service users and not existing structures or processes.

The irony is that the government is the body which often stands in the way of the transformation

The majority of councils have been travelling in this direction for some time. They need to speed up further though, such is the threat to existing resources.

The irony is that the government –which has disproportionately focused austerity upon councils, forcing them to change their delivery models at an ever greater pace – is the body which often stands in the way of the transformation.

The panel’s report calls for a rationalisation in the number of funding streams available for transformative projects, creating a single transformation investment fund worth £5bn over the next parliament. The creation of this would galvanise a culture of local services working together to innovate rather than health services seeking NHS cash and councils a pot of money earmarked for them. Multi-year settlements are also urgently required to encourage a long-term approach to service integration.

Local government minister Kris Hopkins has backed the spirit of the report. He will now need to convince his counterparts across the government to fundamentally change their approach to facilitate the transformation required.

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