Where next for local government funding?

With each week that passes, it seems that another local authority joins the list of those whose finances have reached crisis point. First it was Northamptonshire County Council that hit the headlines, but top-tier councils in Sussex, Lancashire, Suffolk, Surrey, Torbay and Oxfordshire also seem to be feeling the heat. And Somerset County Council, down the road from me, has just voted through £28 million of cuts over the next two years, leading opposition councillors to describe the council as on the ‘brink of bankruptcy’. Continue reading

Understanding value

Higher education in the UK is looking for better ways to demonstrate the value that it creates for its students and for society as a whole. Advance HE (formerly the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education) has been working with a pilot group of universities to explore how integrated thinking and reporting can help. And I’ve had the honour of drawing out some of the insights that the project has yielded so far. Continue reading

Small is beautiful

I was delighted the other day to be approached by the person responsible for a local government procurement exercise in which I had expressed an interest, to enquire why I hadn’t submitted a proposal. She was somewhat horrified when I explained that the tender requirements were biased rather heavily against small businesses such as mine. And she asked how the procurement process could have been improved. So here are my top five tips for small-business-friendly procurement. Continue reading

Keeping it in the family

The rationale for outsourcing services has long been an article of faith across the public sector. Lower costs, greater expertise, increased economies of scale. Or so says the theory, at least. And it is a rare local authority – or NHS trust, university or other publicly-funded body – that hasn’t contracted out at least some of its activities.

But what once seemed such a rock-solid argument appears now to be built on less-than-stable foundations. Continue reading

Change you can believe in

I’m all for trying out new things. After all, this is how we develop – both as individuals and as organisations. But changing what we do and how we do it takes both time and effort. And, frequently, money. So it’s important that, before embarking on a new initiative, project or programme, we have a clear idea of what we are trying to achieve, how it will work and how we will know whether or not we have actually achieved it. Continue reading