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LGC View - Review of 2011

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Our review of 2010 reflected a year of phases: the run-up to the general election followed by the periods before and after the pre-spending review. No such neat divisions this year - 2011 has been the year when local government looked constantly down both barrels of the government’s policies for the sector.

It’s been the most challenging of years for chief executives and their senior colleagues. They began the year piloting their communities through tough budget-setting processes that began far later than most would have wished. As the year ends, there’s not much respite as they do it all over again. Indeed, the latest LGC confidence survey conducted in October suggested that the budget-setting would be worse for 2012-13. Two-thirds of respondents said it would be more difficult than 2011-12.

Staffing and management structure may be inextricably linked to budgets but 2011 has been the year when chiefs themselves were facing the chop as leaders, emboldened by Department for Communities & Local Government mood music, considered - and in some cases went ahead with - deleting the top post.

It’s also been a year of fundamental changes wrought by legislation: the Localism Act and Health and Social Care Bill have been profound measures and waiting in the wings are the effects of the potentially game-changing local government resource review. It’ll be interesting to see what these pages reflect in the coming 12 months.

LGC is back on 12 January so we wish you a merry Christmas and as happy a New Year as is possible in the circumstances.

Robin Latchem, deputy editor (practice)
robin.latchem@emap.com

 

LGC VIEWPOINTS - What sums up your view of 2011 for local government?

“Leading the way in the public sector on efficiency and innovation waiting for the rest of the sector to catch up.”

Ann Woodward, head of performance and strategic partnerships, East Riding of Yorkshire Council

“It’s been tough. But 2011 has set the scene for future service transformation. Local government continues to outperform Whitehall in delivering efficiencies.”

Tom Stannard, director of policy and communications, Blackburn with Darwen BC and NHS Care Trust Plus

“The reaching of a tipping point where we must start to forget the way we have always done things to discover a different set of solutions.”

Jim Graham, chief executive, Warwickshire CC

“Get better at predicting change and more nimble in execution. Don’t wait until the funding cuts are too close for comfort and then complain.”

Jameel Malik, head of housing and property services, Warwick DC

“We saw the very best of local government, in dealing with very challenging finances effectively and with as little impact on customers as possible.”

James Rolfe, director of finance, resources and customer services, Enfield LBC

“Funding cuts are knocking the stuffing out of localism. We are losing the staff we need to respond to the challenges. Is this a shift to a more dirigiste state with local authorities reduced to parish councils?”

David Roberts, assistant director care services in the adult and community services department, Bromley LBC

“As usual the workhorse of the government machine: getting on with implementing efficiency savings while planning how to stimulate local economic recovery.”

Bill Green, head of local government and communities, EC Harris

“Innovation in responding to the challenges. With shared working going well we are looking forward to 2012.”

Matt Prosser, strategic director, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse DCs

  • All opinions are personal. To join the LGC Viewpoints panel, email lgcviewpoints@emap.com with a photo of yourself
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