The cost of things

I am a big fan of the ‘slow’ movement. For those not familiar with the concept, ‘slow’ is about doing things mindfully, taking the time to focus on what we are doing and making a conscious effort to do it well. ‘Slow food’, for example, encourages people to choose fresh, high quality ingredients, to cook them with care and to take the time to enjoy eating them, preferably with family or friends. Continue reading

Donations, sponsorship and the need for accountability

Donations and sponsorship add up to big money in the public sector. Most hospitals have at least one fundraising campaign. Local authorities have long sought and received corporate funding for roadside planting and summer festivals. You can even sponsor a police car. But as cash flow gets tighter and new sources of income look more appealing, it is important that we think carefully about where the money comes from. Continue reading

All change in local government

As the funding cuts start to bite, things are changing rapidly in local government. But this is only the start. My own local authority, for example, managed to find savings of £17.5m in 2011/12 and needs to identify another £30m by 2015. And if the trend continues, they estimate that they will have to cut expenditure by a further £39m by 2018. This will leave the Council with only half of the resources that it had in 2010/11. Continue reading

On outsourcing and accountability

I drove down to South Devon last Friday evening and stayed overnight at the Paignton outpost of a well-known budget hotel chain. Arriving at around 8pm, I was pleased to find one solitary space left in the hotel car park. Sufficiently pleased, in fact, that I didn’t even bat an eyelid at the £5 overnight charge. What annoyed me, though, was that I had to scrabble around to find change for the ticket machine rather than just pay at reception. Continue reading

When times are hard, focus on what you want to achieve

We all know that times are hard. Budget cuts, uncertainty around funding and increased pressure on the resources that are left mean that many organisations across the public and not-for-profit sectors are struggling. But now is not the time to get what you can from where you can. Now is the time to focus carefully on what you want to achieve. Continue reading