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Your spending speaks louder than your cuts

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Digital technology can play a role in linking up multiple organisations and supporting a person-centric approach to service delivery, says PwC’s Jonathan House

Over the last few years we’ve found that councils have dealt in many different ways with the financial challenges they face.

As the case study contributions to this report show, councils that are leading on this agenda are learning that continuing to take an incremental approach to spending cuts is just not going to cut it in future.

The key to surviving and thriving under continued austerity is shifting the focus away from what you have to cut and towards how to maximise the effectiveness and impact of what you have to spend.

While significant progress has been made over the past few years in finding efficiencies, local government is only at the start of this transformation journey. As councils look to redefine their role and purpose, taking an outcomes-based approach gives a useful framework for prioritisation. With resources under pressure, councils need to be confident that they’re making effective interventions that enable the outcomes they’re seeking to achieve.

Our Local State We’re In survey found that 59% of respondents agreed that local authorities should be held accountable for outcomes, rather than service delivery. But barriers remain to putting this approach into practice, not least because local public services need to be viewed in a more holistic way. Consideration needs to be given to how different organisations across a place can contribute to securing desired outcomes, but there remains a relative lack of understanding of the cost to deliver outcomes on this kind of multi-organisational basis.

Many respondents to the survey also cited concerns with capacity and capability. The local government management team of the future will need the ability to support joint ventures and work collaboratively, with public, private and third sector organisations as well as with the public themselves.

Digital technology can play a role in linking up multiple organisations seamlessly and supporting a person-centric approach to service delivery. Having a single view of the customer can provide the data that gives insight into drivers of demand and as a result can support early intervention and prevention programmes, however few local authorities are currently making the most of data and insight in this way.

When it comes to the public, our survey found a significant gap between the public’s assessment of their council’s use of digital technology, and those of chief executives and leaders, with the public expecting a lot more from their councils. As well as offering opportunities for savings, given a public who are increasingly comfortable with and expect digital as standard, not embracing this agenda leaves councils at risk of irrelevance to the wider public.

Jonathan House, director, PwC

 

Foreword supplied by PwC

 

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