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We have to make some tough decisions

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We have an extensive programme of corporate transformation, including the insourcing of our customer service centre and a big push towards ‘digital by default’. But we also need to be having discussions about our total operating model.


To take perhaps another 20-25% out of our budget, we are going to have to look at some big, complex areas of demand management.

The whole interface between health and social care is going to be a huge challenge when it comes to transformation. What is going to be the future policy towards adult social care and how is that going to be financed and organised? It is terribly difficult.

The cost of social care is rising constantly. One significant issue will be children with disabilities becoming adults with disabilities, who are now going on to live much longer lives and so, inevitably, there will be greater demand. We need to think through how we are going to maximise their ability to live independently, taking a whole system approach.

I would also suggest at both a local and national level, we need to be sitting down with the NHS to have a focused debate about the last 10-15 years of people’s lives and how we are going to meet the future needs of older people and manage the growing demand. This cuts across service silos and national and local accountabilities.

Another big area for us will be promoting economic wellbeing. In Southwark, that includes getting as many people as possible into sustainable employment, which becomes particularly important in the context of the government’s welfare reforms.

The unique capability we have as a local authority is to bring people and organisations together in a way no other local agency can, for example, to secure job opportunities for local people as part of our major regeneration programmes.

Finally, our approach to budget setting is going to have to become more sophisticated. If we are now looking at another big reduction, then we either have to make some very tough decisions about what areas of business we are getting out of, or be very smart in how we balance the impact of the cuts across the whole of what we are trying to achieve.

Graeme Gordon, director of corporate strategy, Southwark LBC

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LGC Transformation Summit is taking place on 7-8 November, 2013, and will again be held at Wyboston Lakes in Bedfordshire.

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