That was the local government week that was
‘Woohoo!’ I hear you say, can it really be that after a one week hiatus the WLLG round-up is back?
Well, yes, by popular demand (err, well not exactly but humour us) we’ve scoured the world of local government to bring you our favourite bits of the week. Well, that and the pieces we thought we could comment on.
We have been watching the changes to the relationship between the NHS and local government with a lot of interest and this week the LGIU published one of their excellent briefings accompanied by this post entitled ‘Health and Wellbeing Boards: system leaders or talking shops?’. The blog correctly identifies some issues that have yet to be resolved by this boards and particulr flagged the following:
An important issue which is not yet being addressed head-on is the relationship between the council and the HWB as a council committee. This is will be particularly important in relation to NHS provider reconfigurations which so often prove politically challenging. The Kings Fund describes the situation regarding contested reconfiguration as follows:
‘Even where there is a compelling case for change on the grounds of clinical safety or outcomes, the local authority will come under pressure to reflect local opinion and preserve valued services…In these circumstances the local health and wellbeing boards will be in the eye of the storm and the current wave of generalised goodwill on which they have been riding will quickly dissipate.’
The Tax Payers Alliance (TPA) 2020 tax report was largely ignored by the political classes, due in part to the fact that it advocated a huge tax cut for the wealthy and described people who opposed that point of view as suffering from sexual jealousy. However the report did make mention of local government and on that point we sort of find ourselves agreeing with them. As the Conservative Home blog points out:
Part of the mix they propose would see more tax at a local level, with councils less dependent on central government handouts. For localism to be a reality it must include the management of money. Otherwise councils are the paid agents of Whitehall. The report argues that half the net spending of a council should be paid for from locally raised tax – rather than 17% at present.
The politics of their plan would be greatly helped by the context of tax going down overall. But the power to impose a Sales Tax would come on top of retaining VAT. They would also allow a Local Income Tax.
Perhaps a bit too radical for some but a point definitely worth making and exploring further.
What a headline the Guardian Local Government Network managed to drum up this week: ‘Local government has become ‘bureaucratic to the point of myopia’. The article was perhaps less strident but definitely worth a read:
Local authorities are our only large local institutions that embody the democratic ideal: run by, with and on behalf of the people. Lose the jaded mindset and you will see that councils really are exciting places trying to change the world. You will witness many heated debates about the pros and cons of shared services and strategic commissioning. You will come across knots of enthralled people gripped by the twists and turns of proposed restructurings, as if they were an episode from the latest soap.
What these exchanges have in common is that they often miss the big picture. Councils are constantly reviewing the way that they are organised. The aim is laudable, but the organisational focus can be process-bound and bureaucratic to the point of myopia.
We are big fans of the Comms2point0 blog and Dan Slee so when there is a combination of both in a particular post it is well worth a read. And when that post is about how we better use e-mail in communications it is worth a read. I particularly enjoyed the following fact:
People spend on average 51 seconds reading an email.
This time round we’re tweeting from the home of a lady who cares for her husband with dementia to try and convey the relentless demands and challenges that this role brings and to try and make us all a bit more aware of dementia and mental health issues. We’re tweeting from a carers’ consultation session too and featuring the partnership work being done in our communities to offer people of all ages, something to do and somewhere to go.
And we’re looking at people with learning and physical disabilities who were sent out of the borough for care many years ago, away from their families and communities, who are being supported to come back.
If we can achieve this in social care with all of its perceived “barriers” we can achieve it anywhere.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from all this it’s “Don’t assume people won’t want to speak about their experiences.” In our experience they have no problem with speaking up – it’s getting people to listen that’s the key.
Meanwhile, kudos to the Helpgov blog which has reached it’s 20,000th hit and celebrated by providing some links back to previous popular posts; always worth a look.
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 at: firstname.lastname@example.org