Editor's Comment

19.08.16

A new wave of uncertainty

Source: PSE Aug/Sep 16

Since the last edition of PSE, the landscape facing the public sector has altered dramatically and brought with it a great deal of uncertainty – as if there wasn’t enough of that before. 

Following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union (well, the English and Welsh vote), we have a completely new-look government, with Theresa May at the head. Fortuitously, Professor Chris Painter has been on hand to provide a round-up of all the changes and their potential implications. His article, starting on page 16, is well worth a read. 

Unsurprisingly, the thread which is interwoven throughout this issue is that of Brexit.

With David Davis at the helm of the newly formed Department for Exiting the European Union, it is important that clear leadership and decisions are made – sooner rather than later – to help steady the Whitehall ship that will have to, as Sir Jeremy Heywood said, provide “calm and commitment” to deliver a smooth transition. 

Although none of us know exactly how the negotiations, and taking sovereignty back from Brussels, will play out, it is fair to say that all of the public sector must work together, collectively, if the nation is to prosper. 

In the June/July issue, we focused predominantly on the latest devolution developments. Now, however, we are unsure how this agenda will play out, especially with regards to maintaining already promised EU funding. The LGA is calling for reassurances from the government, but so far there seems to be little response. 

As well as looking at the political and economic ramifications of Brexit in this edition, we also have a focus on inequality, public sector estates reform, pensions and finance, and much more. 

Of particular interest, Cllr Gillian Keegan, director of Women2Win, explains why she is co-chairing a commission into women’s representation in local government. Her article discusses the work of the one-year programme and how people can get involved. I sincerely hope you do, as it is a travesty that just over 30% of councillors are women. We can, and must, do better! 

While many have said David Cameron’s legacy will be Brexit, Tam Fry from the National Obesity Forum argues that instead he should be remembered for his inaction over child obesity. I’ll let you make your own mind up on that one, but it is something to consider – especially as this is a growing public health problem which falls under local government’s remit to address. 

Last year, at around this time, we were all preparing for the then chancellor’s Spending Review. But George Osborne’s replacement at No.11 has signalled that he is prepared to ‘reset’ the government’s economic policy and, in light of the events so far this year, it is needed. What this will entail is still unknown, but a wise bet from what has happened so far in 2016 is that change is ahead.

David Stevenson

Editor

Comments

Mike Francis   01/09/2016 at 19:35

Some really important points here and should be factored into planning for managers and executives following a summer of reflection.

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