That was the local government week that was

Did anything happen?

This week on the blog we have looked at officer neutrality, council websites, local government managers and the balance between working in local government and having a young family.

‘But what else has been happening in the on-line world of local government?’ I hear you ask; well, quite a lot. So without further ado:

It’s no secret that the cuts made by the Government are going to have a major impact on those councils in poorer areas but stories like this one from the Independant really do bring it home:

London and the North of England have been especially badly hit by the cuts, according to research by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

“Overall cuts in local government spending (excluding education) are largest in both absolute and proportionate terms in the high-spending regions of London, the North East and the North West,” said the IFS in its 2012 Green Budget – a precursor to the Chancellor’s Budget each spring.

Average cuts in London between 2009-10 and 2011-12 were equivalent to £221 per person or 11.2 per cent. Cuts in the North East were equivalent to £169 per person, or 12.6 per cent. In the North West, the average cut was £156 per person, or 12 per cent.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies was also in the news this week when they suggested that the Government’s reform of the pension system was not actually going to save the Government any money over the next 20 years. As the Telegraph explained it:

The institute concludes: “In general, lower earners in the public sector will actually get a more generous pension as a result of the recently announced reforms. That is, they will be able to retire at age 65 with a higher annual pension than they would receive under current arrangements. Conversely, higher earners are likely to lose out.”

There are two real lessons from this. Firstly, the lesson that every local government manager knows; before you get any sign off for a project make sure that your costing of the project is correct.

Secondly, it is amazing how much bad information has infected the debate. The Government were trying to convince everyone that this change was an absolute necessity when it wasn’t and the Unions were actively campaigning against a policy which eventually ended up benefiting the poorest workers and reducing the benefits of the highest paid. When you put it like that it almost seems the wrong way round!

For those who like a good awards bash the nominations for the Councillor Achievement Awards were released this week. For those who are interested:

Sign-up here to be first to know who the winners are and follow us on the evening on the#cllrawards hashtag.

As officers we realised just how little we actually know about councillors around the country so this is a valuable opportunity for a bit of celebration of good performance.

In other LGIU news Rob Dale wrote this piece about the wider value local government can provide to it’s citizens by offering free Wi-Fi. We couldn’t not agree with this more:

The building of IT infrastructure must be about communities, businesses and local authorities working together to reach a desired result… We know that councils have to adapt to stay relevant to the way their residents live their lives, and this is especially urgent in technology, media and communications.

We were a bit worried about the this story that:

The head of the Student Loans Company, Ed Lester, was not added to the SLC payroll when he was given a two-year contract in January 2011.

He was paid through a private firm – an arrangement agreed with tax chiefs.

As far as I am aware this is pretty standard practice for senior people on short term contracts. Many of them will have their own companies, often named after themselves, and as long as they follow tax rules it can be the only way we can employ some people.

I’m not saying this is right; more that if the Government are really upset about it they should be changing their tax rules rather than picking on one person; a habit which seems to have been happening increasingly regularly over the past few months (see Goodwin, F and Hester, S).

With possibly the longest non-blog post we’ve seen, Mark Braggins takes us on a whistle stop tour through the things on his mind at the moment. In particular, the reference to the Public Sector Yammer network, which anyone with a .gov e-mail address can (and should) join was interesting; we think it’s a great idea, and want to point any local government officers who want to connect and collaborate with others across the country (and world) to it and say join in!

Lots more has happened this week but in the interest of brevity we’ll leave it at that. Have a great weekend and we’ll see you on the other side of Sunday.

Welovelocalgovernment is a blog written by UK local government officers. If you have a piece you’d like to submit or any comments you’d like to make please drop us a line

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One Comment on “That was the local government week that was”

  1. […] weeks ago we had a sense that the unmasking of Ed Lester from the Student Loans Company as the sole employee of his own […]

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