This report 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. 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.
In light of the bleak financial outlook for local government, with more austerity to come over the next five years, our members painted a worrying picture of the expected effect of public sector spending cuts across all service areas, with most service areas predicting a significantly bigger impact to be felt over this Spending Review period than over the past year. Unsurprisingly, the top three key drivers for our members’ organisations for the year ahead were financial sustainability (51%), stimulating economic growth (45%) and cost reductions/efficiency (40%).
The key findings from our survey of Solace members include:
- 83% expect the state of local government finance over the next ten years to decline
- 77% of Solace members agree that more of the money spent by local authorities should be raised locally.
- Most believe that councils’ remit will grow, and that it will deliver a localised agenda.
When asked to consider different models of service delivery, most members believe that in ten years’ time, combined authorities should be the primary commissioner of the following services: Health, Children’s Social Care, Adult Social Care, Welfare, Education, Housing, Planning, Skills and employment, Transport, and Waste, environmental and regulatory services. However, most respondents thought that Health, Welfare and Education would nonetheless be controlled centrally.
However, it is clear from our findings that, amidst facing financial and service pressures and negotiations of devolution deals, the sector leadership is ready to step up to the challenge and bring about the change that the sector needs. In order to create more sustainable local public services, Local Authorities need more freedom to effectively deliver outcomes for people and place, either through new models of delivery, new ways of working or new partnerships, underpinned by the principles of democratic accountability, collaboration, integration and prevention.
You can download the report here