That was the local government week that was


Same picture; different stories

It’s a bumper crop of local government blogging and other news this week so without further ado:

One of our favourite blogs is flip chart fairy tales and this week’s discussion of local government cuts, and the ‘great local government fire sale’ that is accompanying them, was particularly accurately put. As the author (Rick) points out:

Councils desperate to get costly services off their books may well grasp at such offers without thinking too hard about the longer-term implications. In some areas, smaller firms and social enterprises might not even get a look in.

This is the sort of thing that happens in all distressed organisations. Companies that are facing bankruptcy tend to slash and burn in a breathless struggle to dump their costlier activities. Sudden and drastic budget cuts will have the same effect on local authorities.

The ever excellent Simon Parker has written a helpful post about the Public Account Committee’s report on local government finance. As he says:

Reviewing the formulas is necessary but not sufficient. The problem with changing the rules is that it redistributes money: some councils get more and others get less. That requires a government with the political guts to shift funding around the system. And that is where things get tricky.

He’s not wrong and as he mentions later on it’s going to take real courage from central Government to do something about it.

There was another excellent Guardian debate this week; this time on local government communications. It was perhaps a little focused on social media but is well worth a read and benefitted from some very smart people taking part.

A worryingly accurate and identifiable flow chart here from Ingrid Koehler and Future Surrey, setting out clearly how not to do co-production.  Have to say, it’s so true to some projects we’ve seen that it’s almost not a joke!

Last week we had a great session on co-production with Surrey staff. Liz Daughters came up with the great idea of coming together to design the WORST possible approach to co-production. Something guaranteed to stop it dead in its tracks. Why? So we could identify any existing behaviours in ourselves or our colleagues that are inadvertently (or maybe even deliberately) holding back genuine co-production.

The ‘Not so Big Society’ blog has an interesting post on the much maligned Care Quality Commission (CQC) pointing out exactly why it is much maligned. What I like about the post is it ends on a positive note with some suggestions for the future:

I hope the government look not only at putting more money into the system but building more expertise, experience and knowledge into the Care Quality Commission and providing inspectors who know the sectors that they inspect very well rather than having learnt about it in books because if any job needs hands-on experience as a requirement, it is that of an inspector for the CQC.

This excellent post from @Haypysch draws on the bloggers own experience to make case for hiring non-traditional managers in local government. The points are very well made and it is well worth a read. There are five lessons in there but to give you a taste this is lesson 1:

LESSON 1: Early on in your career, be prepared to take a risk and step away from a purely technical role. You’ll learn loads of skills outside of your expertise – how to manage a budget, staff, how to negotiate with partners. This will stand you in good stead.

A good point very well made.

UK GovCamp is back. We’ve never been to one but everyone we know who has only ever speaks positively of them. As the website says:

UKGovcamp is about people giving up their time to talk, listen and think about how digital is changing the way government works in the UK. Those conversations start online long before the event, and continue long afterwards, stimulating new ideas, projects and get-togethers. UKGovcamp is an unconference, or a free-to-attend conference without a predefined agenda, where the sessions are proposed and agreed at the start of the day. They’re posted as a big grid on the wall for the participants to choose from, and there’s plenty of time for the informal hallway chats which, let’s face it, are the best bit of any conference.

If you’ve never tried it apparently you should (and you never know you might just see some of us there giving it a go for the first time).

And finally, check out the Local Government Chronicle’s Movember gallery. A fine cause and some fine (and not so good) taches on display.

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