Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Inside Out - Are we part of the problem?

  • Comment

The Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers has just polled chiefs to find the five things at the top of their minds. Pay, pensions, job security, being bashed in the media or dissed by politicians were not mentioned.

Bless the altruistic bunch - their top answers, in my words, were: what’s Big Society?; cuts; the effects of cuts; doing things better; and staff capacity and morale. If you add trying to write this column every week, I’m a stereotypical chief executive.

Big Society puzzles me. What is our role? I had dinner last week with an old friend of mine who trains social entrepreneurs. He thought we were part of the problem, not part of the solution.

First, because we are as bad as any part of the state in continuing a dependency culture in the way we deliver services. He thought it was too much in our interests to continue dependency as it protected jobs and meant we didn’t have to change.

Second, we stifle enterprise. If change is to come from communities, they need leaders who can manage the change, ie, social entrepreneurs. My chum had just finished a research project funded by one of the major banks about how you create social entrepreneurs. The research concluded that you can’t.

What you can do is create the conditions that allow them to emerge. Given how we spend our money, procurement rules and how risk averse we are, he argued that we will never have a role in creating such an environment.

Finally, he argued that we were part of the repressive state machinery that will always keep people down.

As you can tell from the last comment my friend is of a leftist persuasion. But his first two points need careful thought. Besides the obvious answer about getting people into decent jobs, can anybody provide me with examples of where we have put ourselves out of work by ending dependency? Are there any chief executives out there willing to risk public funds with some social mavericks?

Answers on a postcard, please.

Find out more or email

The one thing he won’t comment on is his identity…

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.