Wednesday, 23 July 2014

LGA chair says councils can save £100bn

The chair of the Local Government Association has said councils can deliver savings of £100 billion over five years.

In response to government spending cuts, the LGA has produced its own proposals for reform. Margaret Eaton said these will ‘deliver huge savings over five years’.

Outlining the offer to the government at an event yesterday, Ms Eaton said: ‘We need a fundamental reform of the way the public sector works: we want to cut out the middle men, cut out the duplication, the bureaucracy and empower local services to help local people.

‘We estimate our plans for reform will save up to £100 billion over five years and help save vital public services from very painful and damaging cuts.

‘We asked a wide range of councils if they were ready for this challenge, and we’ve had an overwhelming response, showing that councils are ambitious and they have ideas for doing things fundamentally differently.’

Lord Richard Best, the president of the LGA, said the drive for localism is ‘an historic moment in time’. He added: ‘Over the next few months it is possible that we can put in a different way of working in local government, and a different relationship between central and local government.’

Communities secretary Eric Pickles attended the event. He said: ‘It’s an extraordinarily generous offer. The LGA is right – we need to find a better way of doing business. Even if we hadn’t been at a time of cuts, the balance of power in this country is utterly wrong.

‘The last 30 years have taken control away from councils and local communities. Localism means pushing power out into local government and beyond into neighbourhoods and communities.

‘The LGA needs to make sure that the sector isn’t let down by a few clueless councils who won’t seize the changes.

‘You’ve said you can achieve better services for less money, and I want to put you in charge of that money as soon as possible so you can make rapid progress on this over the next few weeks.’

Readers' comments (8)

  • """"Outlining the offer to the government at an event yesterday, Ms Eaton said: ‘We need a fundamental reform of the way the public sector works: we want to cut out the middle men, cut out the duplication, the bureaucracy and empower local services to help local people."""

    Very well said. Having worked in both public and private sector I am astounded by the waste, the duplication, the ticking boxes for the sake of it, the endless meetings just to set the time of the next meeting, the number of people involved in the same process and the all round complacency of those who have never experienced real change or value for money and cost effectiveness etc etc!!! We could run our department on 20% less staff with no loss of service if it was organised properly and probably actually deliver a better service with a complete change of attitude and focus.

    Of course it does beg the question of why it has taken a deep recession to stimulate this debate, why is it not an ongoing thing to run the public sector more efficiently anyway?

    I know there will be those who say public sector workers work hard etc etc, but the ones I work with have obviously never seen hard work in their lives. There is far to much "flexibility" with staff pretty much running their own jobs coming and going as they please with no supervison from managers who have no people skills or business experience. We need to run councils like a business with real consequences for failure and rewards for success and a responsibility culture that it is public money that we are forced to pay in our council tax and they must make sure it is spent properly.

    But one word of warning, we have a private sector "partner" and that clearly doesnt work. Conflicts of interest and policy and prime directives. The council's prime directive is to offer the best service to people of the town, whereas the contract's prime directive is to make as much money as they can for their directors and shareholders, the 2 do not sit well together and are causing untold problems. Councils should be left to run themselves and be accountable to the people they serve not to any shareholders and the private sector most definitely have no place in social housing, there should be no profit in it that is just obscene!

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  • I have worked for local authorities for 20 years and I agree with Anon8:56, public sector workers just do not do enough work They. are not managed to deliver targets. They have no concept of what a reasonable target is, most are too long in their jobs. Most are badly managed. Managers in the public sector have came through the ranks delivering the same old same old. I've been to endless 'managing change' courses, nothing changes. The work culture does not allow change, it is terrified of it. We must change to do more and be more efficient.

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  • Sorry - I know there are parts of the public sector which could be significantly rationalised and I know that savings can definately be found but generalisations like this are dangerous. There is poor performance in both the public and private sector - some of us would love to work in the private sector again but these sort of views re-enforce the private sectors prejudice against anyone who has worked in the public sector (by the way I have previously worked in the private sector as well as do most of my friends). A lot of the issues described are probably a reflection of poor middle management and of senior management not seeing the probalems - you don't fix things by just sending people on courses but by ensuring the act of them and grow and develop (and getting rid of the ones that don't which is possible) – I’ve always ensured my staff work hard and deliver.

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  • Anonymous 11.08. Generalisations are always dangerous, but we can only speak as we find. The problem as you say is one of poor middle and senior managers who have been here too long and dont know how to change a culture pretty much ingrained on them and the majority of the staff. All of the higher managers have been here 15 years or more and none have worked outside of the public sector and are all very scared of change.

    No training sessions are going to change attitudes which is the major problem, when staff have been allowed to not work very hard for some time it is difficult for managers to get them to change even when the threat of redundancy is hanging over them. This also affects the level of service given. Too many people in the same rut for years and years and being allowed to stay there is the challenge. But we have no option or choice but to pay for this service and should be receiving value for money, which is clearly not being given at most local authorities.

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  • Ms Eaton's Damascene conversion would be all the more convincing if it hadn't come at quite such an opportune time.

    She's spent most of her life maintaining the waste.

    Could the change of mind not be related to the perception that there are prospects for advancement in damning the damned?

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  • " The problem is not that public sector workers are not valuable, but rather they are over compensated...... A typical public sector worker earns 30% more on an hourly basis than a private sector counterpart. " Ed Holmes, of the Policy Exchange's policy unit.
    We all know about statistics and lies, Mr Holmes, but it would be interesting to know exactly how you arrived at this denouement.
    Speaking as a long term peone in the private sector, I personally don't recall anytime during the boom years when I, or my colleagues and associates, were ever induced to chuck in our underpaid, overworked positions to jump aboard the gravy train that is the public sector. So spare a thought for us poor souls slaving away at the coal faces of Canary Wharf and The City, for so little renumeration.
    Tar and feathers, Mr Holmes.

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  • Who are all these people agreeing with themsleves?

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  • Anonymous | 28/07/2010 8:56 am

    Probably one of the best posts in the history of IH online. Absolutely spot on. As I have said before there needs to be wholesale clearouts of departments heads across all LA's. The replacements must not have prior public sector experience, only private sector experience should count. And total agreement on the "private partner" manifest conflict of interest. Like oil and water the two don't mix in that situation. However all services need to be managed with private sector discipline and focus on the bottom. Which is to build shareholder value with the shareholders being the council tax payers.

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