Reports & Guides

Solace regularly publishes research reports and briefs offering innovative policy solutions and recommendations on a range of policy areas, as well as guides containing practical counsel for members on a wide array of leadership issues. All of our research publications, as well as some produced by our business and strategic partners, are available to download on this page.

  • Civica: Invigorating the Public Sector Revolution

    Working with SOLACE, Civica held a leadership forum with local government and private sector leaders to explore how people, culture and leadership are not only key barriers but also enablers of the change required in the public sector to deliver re-designed and integrated services. This report details the key outcomes that emerged from the forum, including three imperatives for managing this radical change effectively, and five practical steps to public sector revolution.

  • IGNITE - The leadership programme for local government chief executives

    Over the last year, Solace working in partnership with Collaborate CIC, the RSA and supported by the Local Government Association has co-designed and piloted a new kind of leadership programme for local authority chief executives. The lessons from the programme are captured in this report which was launched this week at the LGA Conference in Birmingham. It sets out the rationale behind developing this programme, what we have learnt from it and what comes next. It shows how the role and skill set of chief executives within local government and public services will need to evolve as challenges become more complex and as collaboration and place-based leadership becomes increasingly critical. For more information and to register interest for the 2017/18 programme, please contact Trudy Birtwell from Solace at

  • Initial Position Statement on Skills and Local Economic Growth: Comments Invited

    This is the initial position statement from Solace on skills and local economic growth, developed by Tom Stannard, Director of Economy and Skills at Oldham Council and Solace Deputy Spokesperson for Economic Growth, with significant and valuable input from the Local Government sector as well as our private sector partners Prospects, Lloyds and Grant Thornton. The paper sets out the skills and employment challenges facing local authorities and, importantly, it provides some practical advice for those working in this sector. It is an initial position statement, distributed for consultation and Solace welcomes feedback and further examples of practice that can support colleagues in their attempts to navigate and influence this complex area locally. If you have any thoughts or ideas regarding the issues discussed in the paper please contact Martina Cicakova, Solace Policy Officer by email at

  • Queen's Speech Briefing 2017

    This briefing contains a summary of key points for local government and Solace members raised by Her Majesty in the annual Queen’s speech to both Houses of Parliament. See below for further details categorised by sector.

  • Creating a manifesto for a vibrant economy

    Over the past 18 months our partner Grant Thornton have explored how they can shape a vibrant economy in the UK– one which realises the shared potential of businesses, cities, people and communities across the country. They have recently published a new report, informed by nationwide research which examines views of the public, private and not-for-profit sectors on what is already working, dreams of the future and how we can collectively make these a reality.

  • Article 50: Gearing up for Brexit

    The triggering of Article 50 represents the first major step towards the UK's departure from the European Union (EU) and begins a two-year period of negotiation. During this time, the UK remains a full member of the EU, enjoying continued participation in the Single Market and remaining bound by the rules and obligations of membership. What shape the UK's relationship with Europe will take beyond March 2019 is unknown. Solace’s partner Grant Thornton have developed this guidance to help our members understand how the key issues are likely to impact their business.

  • Using Evidence in Scrutiny

    A practice guide for local government scrutiny about the best ways to understand and use evidence jointly produced by The Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS), the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (Solace) and The Alliance for Useful Evidence (supported by Nesta). Good evidence is the backbone of good scrutiny. Without it, making effective recommendations is impossible. But it is one of the trickiest things to get right. This report sets out the importance of evidence based decision making in local government policy, how to understand and use evidence effectively in scrutiny, and guides on where to find 'good' evidence.

  • Solace Autumn Statement 2016 Briefing

    On Wednesday 23 November, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond delivered his first Autumn Statement and set out the Government’s spending priorities over the coming years. This briefing sets out the key messages for local government.

  • Solace Housing Survey 2016: Outcome Report

    September-October 2016 saw Solace conduct a survey of its members on housing, jointly designed with Inside Housing. Its aims were to measure Local Authorities’ attitudes towards housing; to understand what they are doing to address the national housing challenge; to examine their current priorities and future plans as they relate to housing; and to understand the challenges they are facing in delivering the homes needed by their local areas. This Outcome Report presents the topline results of the survey.

  • Walk Tall – Being a 21st Century Public Servant

    The LGA, Solace and PPMA have been working together with our academic partner, the University of Birmingham, to consider how we can provide a practical focus to the conceptual thinking that lies behind the University’s excellent research into the 21st Century Public Servant. We know there was a lot of interest in the concept of the 21st century public servant but an increasing appetite for something practical, relevant and accessible that would help leaders, practitioners and employees better understand what a 21st century public servant does and how they do it, as well as provide the examples and confidence to take action within their own organisations and workplaces. We are delighted that, with the support of some local authorities, we have produced an exciting e-book called Walk Tall: Being a 21st Century Public Servant. The book draws on the experiences of individuals working in councils and other parts of the public sector to bring to life the concept of the 21st Century Public Servant. It shows what 21st century public servants do day in, day out, and encourages organisations across the public sector to adopt a new approach to job design, workforce planning, organisational culture, recruitment, staff development and employee engagement to empower and facilitate our workforce to deliver fantastic services, enjoy their work and be very proud of their achievements. Please contact Trudy Birtwell by either email or via telephone on 0207 976 3311 for additional information.

  • BREXIT - A Public Sector Perspective

    Solace partner Grant Thornton have produced an analysis of the expected impacts that yesterday's referendum result to leave the EU is likely to have on the public sector. This article sets out the expected short term as well as longer-term impacts and it addresses some of the initial questions that need to be asked in relation to funding and skills.

  • Local Digital Leadership – Joint Policy Paper

    Solace, Socitm the LGA, and the Local CIO Council jointly call for local leaders to champion digital innovation in their own authorities, as a vital step in building shared services and delivering placed-based policy. This paper presents compelling case studies of local government and public sector organisations that have used innovative digital approaches to transform various services, arguing that this is a key pillar of the transformation the sector is currently undergoing.

  • Queen's Speech Briefing 2016

    This briefing contains a summary of key points for local government and Solace members raised by Her Majesty in the annual Queen’s speech to both Houses of Parliament. The briefing are categorised by policy sector.

  • Key Leadership Actions for Innovation

    On behalf of Solace’s Innovation and Commissioning Network, in 2015 the Accelerating Innovation in Local Government Research Project (AIILGRP) conducted new research into what senior managers might do to achieve more major innovations more quickly in their councils. Twelve councils, including three district council partnerships, contributed to the research. In each council or partnership a range of senior and middle managers were interviewed individually, or in groups, to discover their perspectives on which leadership actions appeared to have the greatest impact on achieving innovations. This is the final report, analysing those findings in depth.

  • Transforming Services, Transforming Leadership

    Solace has published a new report which examines the views of Solace members on the current and future local government priorities and key drivers, examples of best practice and innovation, and the future of local government finance and devolution, outlining some clear and important messages to the sector and our partners. The report is sponsored by Knowledge Hub and informed by the outcomes of the Solace Insights Survey carried out in December 2015. It is a key part of our efforts to reinforce and raise the volume of Solace’s voice with policy-makers, influencers and other key stakeholders as the real experts in the field.

  • Local Public Services Senior Managers: Code of Ethics

    The professional bodies of senior managers across local public services, including Solace, CIPFA, LLG, ADASS, ADCS, PPMA, ADEPT, ADPH, APACE and CFOA, have come together to develop a code of ethics for their members. The code is an overarching statement of ethics, based upon behaviours and therefore focused on the individual, as opposed to group or organisational culture. It is intended to be applicable to all those who hold senior management roles in local public services led by locally elected politicians. The expectation of our residents and the professional bodies is that every senior manager working in local public services will adopt the code of ethics, including those engaged on a permanent, temporary, full-time, part-time, casual, consultancy, contracted or voluntary basis. The code draws from, and in most cases be consistent with, a number of existing resources, most significantly the ‘Principles of Public Life’ published by the Committee on Standards in Public Life in 1995. A number of senior professionals within local public services will already be subject to specific professional codes of ethics and behaviour and this code does not replace these professional codes which are likely to be more detailed in nature.

  • Addressing the National Housing Challenge

    Building enough homes, at the right time and for the right price, is one of the great challenges facing the country. Housing supply, choice and quality underpins economic prosperity and is fundamental to creating resilient, confident and sustainable communities. It is the role of Local Government to facilitate and drive the creation of places and there is a growing recognition of the value of developing locally appropriate and integrated solutions. Local Authorities are perfectly placed to meet this challenge. This paper explores the housing challenges we face as a nation, the potential implications of the Government’s proposed national policy changes, and how the views and experiences of Solace Members, working in partnership with Central Government, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), LGA and other organisations, can help shape solutions.

  • Productive Economy, Productive State: Submission on the 2015 Spending Review

    This is the Solace submission on the 2015 Spending Review, which argues that only within a bold partnership can both the Government deliver its long term economic plan, and local councils continue to fulfil their statutory responsibilities and achieve the ambitions of local communities. We propose that the upcoming Spending Review should establish a deal with the whole local government sector aimed at delivering: financial self-sufficiency across local government by 2025 enabled by incremental fiscal devolution; devolution of local state spending responsibilities to clusters of local councils to drive productivity across all local public services; and devolution to clusters of local councils to deliver greater local economic growth and productivity.

  • Influence for Impact: The new challenges for public service communicators in the age of austerity

    The CIPR Local Public Services Group launched this research project in recognition that public services have been challenged and reshaped like never before. They wanted to find out how communications professionals were coping, adapting and reinventing themselves in a context of budget cuts and increasing expectations. This is their final research report.

  • Devolution Revolution: Turning Around Local Government

    On 5th October, the Chancellor George Osborne set out the Government's plans to devolve powers from Whitehall to local areas in a bid to stimulate economic growth. The initiative was heralded as the “biggest transfer of power to local government in living memory”. The proposals envisage that local areas, predominantly led by local authorities, will retain 100 per cent of local taxes to spend on local government services. The suggestion is that this will help stimulate job creation, and offer encouragement to local SME’s and businesses. In light of this, Bob Pritchard and Andrew Hirst have put together the following guidance.

  • Solace joins with cross sector partners to challenge public health cuts

    Solace have co-signed a letter alongside a range of partners led by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges calling on the government to recognise that the planned £200m cut to the public health grant is at odds with the aims of NHS ‘Five Year Forward View and will have a direct impact on the NHS.

  • The potential implications of capping public sector exit payment

    The Government has now confirmed it will proceed with a proposed cap of £95,000 on public sector exit payments, the vehicle for which will be the Enterprise Bill, coming into force next year. With full details awaited and current uncertainty, establishing coherent strategies and advice is difficult. Even so, the mere fact that a cap on such payments is in the offering is already starting to impact staffing considerations within the sector and crucial pension decisions. In light of this, Huw Jones, Partner and recently appointed as Solace Business Partner Eversheds' National Head of Local Government, has signposted some areas employers may wish to reflect upon even before the detailed regulations are available.

  • Thinking caps on: The potential implications of capping public sector exit payments

    Solace partner Eversheds have published a report that examines last month's Government Response to consultation on public sector exit payments. Despite a "significant number" of the 4,000 or so respondents reportedly being against a blanket cap on such payments, it is clear that government proposals will be proceeded with, with a view to clamping down on large exit payments in the public sector.

  • Pioneers - 2015 Senior Managers' Risk Report

    Zurich Municipal were delighted to launch their new Thought Leadership report at the Solace Summit. The 'Pioneers' report has given a number of local authority chief executives an opportunity to tell their story and explain the pressures their organisations are facing. The report is based on interviews with senior leaders, conducted at the beginning of this year. `Pioneers’ is the third in a series of reports and follows ‘The Transformers’ and 'Evolution to Revolution', which were produced in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Last year, the report talked about local authorities which were transforming and spearheading a movement to deliver public services differently, taking them outside of their comfort zone. This year, the radical thinking and planning is evident and there’s a pioneering spirit within local government. Please read the report for more information on what senior managers have to say.

  • Making Devolution Work

    Grant Thornton UK LLP and their research partner Localis launched a new report at the SOLACE Summit on 7 October. The report sets out the findings of research undertaken with senior stakeholders across local and central government, to try and get under the bonnet of devolution negotiations. The report offers lessons to local leaders on how the best possible case for devolution can be made, both publicly and at the negotiating table.

  • Addressing the Housing Challenge: Draft Housing Policy Paper

    This paper explores the housing challenges we face as a nation, the potential implications of proposed national policies intended to tackle these issues and how the views and experiences of Solace Members, working in partnership with Central Government and other organisations, can help shape solutions.If you have any thoughts or ideas regarding the issues discussed in this paper, or would like to get more involved in Solace’s work on housing, please get in touch by email at

  • Local Government Funding

    This is the final 'Need to Know' evidence review, commissioned by the Local Government Knowledge Navigator and produced by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). This review looks at a range of potential models for local government funding. The objective of this review is to provide an overview and summary of the research and evidence available to underpin and inform the policy debate around funding for local government in England. The review considers four sources of Local Government funding: council tax; central government grants; business rates; and fees and charges.

  • Making the Most of Research

    This is the final report of the Local Government Knowledge Navigator to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Local Government Association and Solace. The report records the experience and lessons learned from the Local Government Knowledge Navigators over the last two years. It is intended to all those who have engaged in this agenda and who recognise the potential value of developing a stronger research and development base for local government and local public services in challenging times. The report highlights the existence of a strong case for supporting closer engagement between academic research and local government in the UK.

  • Solace Insights Report

    In light of the upcoming General Election and the political uncertainty it brings about, the political parties have announced their programmes and are making pledges about what they are going to change when they come into power. But how much does local government trust national politicians to have a sufficient programme for change? The economy has taken a positive turn and it seems that the country is on a path to secure economic growth. However, the immense scale of the financial challenge facing local government is becoming clearer and the austerity in local government is inevitably going to continue. This leads to councils being forced to find new ways of working and delivering services, and seeking out partnerships to provide the most cost-effective solutions for service users and residents. It is likely that the way services are being delivered will be radically different in ten years’ time. The aim of this report, informed by the Solace Insights Survey conducted in November and December 2014, is to measure the mood in local government.

  • Local Government and the Demography of Ageing

    This evidence review on Local Government and the Demography of Ageing is part of the 'Need to Know' series, and is a joint commission by the local Government Knowledge Navigator and the Local Government Association. This review focuses on the main opportunities and challenges posed by population ageing for policymakers at the local level, and the ways in which such opportunities and challenges might be addressed.

  • Local authorities’ preparedness for civil emergencies

    Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and Solace have jointly published a guide which sets out the types of issues local authorities should consider in order to be fully prepared to respond to a civil emergency. This guidance aims to assist chief executives of local authorities in making sure they are well-prepared to respond to a civil emergency in their local area. As well as referencing existing government guidance, including the duties set out in the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, it contains good practice examples and sources of further training.

  • The role of Evidence and Research in Local Government

    This report by the Local Government Knowledge Navigator (LGKN) assesses the extent to which local authorities use evidence and research to inform decisions and policy making. It was initiated by the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (Solace) and the Local Government Association (LGA) and is based on a survey completed on-line Solace members. The report analyses responses to the survey questions across four key themes: Use of evidence and research; Sources of evidence and research and resource allocation; Future evidence and research resource availability & Benefits, disadvantages, and challenges in the use of evidence and research.

  • Post-Party Conference Briefing

    Following the recent referendum on Scottish independence, and with eyes cast ahead to the next General Election in 2015, Britain has seen the final round of the country’s three main political party conferences in the past three weeks. This briefing provides an analysis of the main policy announcements relevant for local government.

  • Are Legal Services Special?

    This report from DAC Beachcroft LLP looks at the transformation of the legal services market in local government over the last 10 to 15 years, and some of the options for service delivery that now exist.

  • Solace Civil Resilience

    This report is based on a survey of Solace members looking at council's role in civil resilience, including emergency planning, training, funding and managing a co-ordinated response. The report feeds back the findings of the survey and draws wider conclusions to shape future support and training for chief executives and senior officers working in ths field.

  • Strengthening your Society: a consultation

    This Solace leaflet explains governance changes that the organisation is going through, and asks for feedback and comments to support Solace along the journey. Its sets out the objectives of the organisation, and how we are looking to achieve them. It stresses a need to foster greater structural and cultural integration across the Group, improving efficiency and supporting our desire to offer seamless customer journeys to our members, business partners and clients.

  • Opportunity Knocks: An Alternative Manifesto

    This Solace report acts as an alternative manifesto for local government. It provides a new vision of how better services could be delivered with local people. The report is intended to promote debate and provide a framework to help thinking around local public service reform. By setting a stress test against which political policies can be considered, it provides a mechanism to judge the likely effectiveness of future measures.

  • From Analysis to Action: Connecting Research and Local Government in an Age of Austerity

    This report by the Local Government Knowledge Navigator, steered by Solace and the LGA, examines how to achieve a wider and more productive engagement between local government and the research community. It looks at local government’s research needs and internal capacity, the supply and funding of research, the value of research and local government collaboration and the barriers that need tackling.

  • Collaboration in Action: Local authorities that are making the most of research

    This evidence review by the Local Government Knowledge Navigators, steered by Solace and the LGA, examines evidence of successful Local Authority and research collaboration. The review examines 16 case studies of local authorities making effective use of research and uses these to identify key ingredients for successful collaboration.

  • Queen’s Speech Briefing 2014

    This briefing contains a summary of key points for local government and Solace members raised by Her Majesty in the Queen's speech to both Houses of Parliament.

  • What Local Government Needs to Know about The Levers of Local Economic Development

    This week the Local Government Knowledge Navigators, steered by Solace and the LGA, published the 4th report in the ‘Need to know’ series on local economic growth. This review explores the existing knowledge base on the levers of local economic development. Firstly, the review weighs up the evidence behind broad approaches to local economic development. Secondly, the review considers the evidence base on specific policies to stimulate local economic development.

  • Reclaiming Children's Services

    This Solace policy report calls on local government to ‘reclaim children’s services’ from national Government and inspectorates. The report sets out the case for councils to use their democratic legitimacy, informal power and role as ‘place-shapers’ to champion better outcomes for all the children and young people in their place. It makes the case for a renewed programme of workforce reform, strong mechanisms for sector-led improvement and new, localist assurance mechanisms to encourage and support innovation. Finally, it asks the sector and Government to consider how deregulation would enable councils to take a truly ‘whole place’ approach to children and families issues.

  • Middle Managers: Dinosaurs or Key Innovation Allies?

    This report looks at middle managers’ views on contributing to change, and how they see their own role in developing innovations. It stresses the importance of councils having a more considered and strategic approach to new developments, with clear priority areas for major innovations. It also outlines middle managers’ desire for politicians and senior managers to lead for change.

  • Local Roots to Growth

    This Solace policy report states that councils must lead in shaping the local economy to ensure that the right type of growth is delivered sustainably. They must be brave in long-term planning and investment in infrastructure and skills to ensure that the conditions are right for businesses to flourish and residents to live. However, the localism rhetoric must turn to reality, giving councils real influence over local finance to borrow, spend and earn with greater freedom. And with all of this, effective integration is vital: skills must be developed for local businesses, support must be granted across sectors and infrastructure must be invested in to let businesses see the value of our local economies.

  • What Local Government Needs to Know about Local Government in the Digital Age

    The Local Government Knowledge Navigator has published the third report in the 'need to know' series on 'Local Government in the Digital Age'. This report provides a digest of what social science research is currently available, identifies major themes, and provides a critical commentary on how these can help investment decisions. The review summarises and signposts available research and evidence of good practice that has relevance to inform local government policy and practice in relation to supporting Local Government in the Digital Age. This a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and steered jointly with Solace and the LGA.

  • Solace Past Presidents 40th Anniversary Pamphlet

    This pamphlet comprises of articles from former Solace Presidents reflecting on the last four decades and what can be learnt for the future. Each article contains personal insights about what local government looked like during the author’s tenure, how the sector has since developed, what has been lost and gained, and what this might teach us.

  • What Local Government Needs to Know about Public Health

    The Local Government Knowledge Navigator has published the second report in the 'need to know' series on 'What Local Government Needs to Know about Public Health'. This report provides a digest of what social science research is currently available, identifies major themes, and provides a critical commentary on how these can help investment decisions. The research reviewed may be used to inform health and wellbeing strategies and action plans to tackle the health gap between social groups, adapting it to local contexts. This a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and steered jointly with Solace and the LGA.

  • What Local Government Needs to Know about People with Learning Disabilities

    The Local Government Knowledge Navigator has published the first report in the 'need to know' series on 'What Local Government Needs to Know about People with Learning Disabilities'. This report provides a digest of what social science research is currently available, identifies major themes, and provides a critical commentary on how these can help investment decisions. The research reviewed will help local authorities to understand the key issues experienced by people with learning disabilities, what current and future demand for services may look like and how public services can help support people with learning disabilities. This is a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and steered jointly with Solace and the LGA.

  • Delivering Differently

    In partnership with DCLG, Cabinet Office and the LGA, Solace are encouraging applications for the Delivering Differently Campaign fund, which has been set up to look at service delivery in a different way and innovate with models they have not considered before. Successful applicants will have access to a portion of the £1m fund and tailored professional support in determining the right service model and how to implement it; looking at delivery through VCSE groups, public service mutuals and joint partnerships. As well as helping to shape the programme, Solace will be part of the evaluation panel for the application process. See an introductory letter here and download the expression of interest form here. For information on the January workshop, click here.