Communities Secretary got a grilling today on the radio about local government cuts. A BBC survey has suggested that there will up to 25,000 job losses at councils in the next few years. Tony Travers of the LSE suggested it could be nearer 100,000.
John Denham stuck to his line that local authorities need to make efficiency savings before cutting front line services and suggested that Tory councils were taking the opportunity to make the cuts they had always wanted to make. He was referring to a new report by the Putting the Frontline First Task Force (more Thick of it / Yes Minister blurring of fact and fiction with that name once more). The task force 'looked at the best ways to share resources to invest in frontline services; to make frontline innovation a reality and how to restructure councils so they can deliver more efficiently'.
From the press release, Denham said:
"Councils have some tough choices in the next few years as things become tighter. But that is no reason to lower their sights on service quality people rightly value. Government is working hard to make sure councils have explored every possible option before resorting to wholesale budget cuts that will affect frontline services and jobs.
"Today my taskforce, ably led by Steve Bullock and Richard Leese, has set out ten decisive steps councils can take to protect local services. They include sharing back office roles like HR and IT; using the same chief executive at two councils; and reducing the number of buildings used by bringing services together under the same roof.
"Local people will rightly be intolerant if they are told that front line services will be cut because their council hasn't done everything suggested on this checklist. If councils adopt our radical efficiency reforms they can protect our top priority frontline services which matter most to local people."
The report is said to set out 'strategic questions that council leaders need to ask themselves about their council; and ten strategic questions to help council managers consider the actions, tools and resources needed to meet the challenges arising from these questions. It includes practical advice for councils telling them how to go about the process, where to find help and examples of savings that can be achieved by making changes. Regional efficiency experts will provide advice and support to councils'.
The ten things the report says that councils must do to protect frontline services are:
- Council services must be focused on the customer. They come first
- Take a Total Place approach to frontline services
- Make services more efficient - cutting out waste and unnecessary duplication. Especially in two tier areas
- Check performance against others and learn from who is doing it better
- Buy goods and services in groups and use that buying power to create local benefits and involve the third sector
- Reduce the number of council buildings by locating more services together
- Motivate staff to help to perform to the best of their ability
- Make managers leaders of innovation to improve services
- Streamline management. Consider splitting senior posts with other councils or PCTs
- Share professional expertise and ensure council staff are able to be flexibly deployed
They speak for themselves really, but thrid sector organisatons especially must be wondering how to respond as there appear to be both threats and opportunities here. We will come back to this later when the report on the Total Place pilots comes out.
Reply #2 on : Tue May 29, 2012, 12:59:30
Reply #1 on : Sun May 27, 2012, 02:14:32
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