Editor's Comment

19.08.15

Power levels

Source: PSE - Aug/Sep 15

PSE has long been supportive of the ‘Keep it Local’ campaign, run by Locality – the membership body for community organisations. The thrust of the campaign is that some ‘common sense’ ideas actually have pernicious consequences, including the repeated drives to save money via economies of scale, standardisation and amalgamation when it comes to procurement and outsourcing. 

For this edition, we caught up with Locality’s chief executive, Tony Armstrong, to get an update on that campaign. He told us how services that can be commissioned and delivered locally should be – outcomes are better and costs are lower. There are scores of great examples of this working, but unfortunately there is a definite counter-trend of services that were once delivered by his neighbourhood-based members being taken off them and handed to big outsourced ‘delivery partners’ (and sometimes national charities). These ‘partners’ often win contracts because of their sheer size and scale, making bidding for them unviable for smaller community-level groups, and to make their promised efficiencies the outsourcer inevitably has to standardise, streamline and take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. This may look good in the immediate short-term as far as the balance sheet is concerned, but as Locality says, it’s really a “false economy of scale”. Our interview with Tony Armstrong is on page 28, see what you think of his arguments. 

It is part of a wider section on Service Redesign, which also features an interview with Lord Kerslake – whose many and various past senior roles across the public sector are too extensive to list here. But, most pertinently to this edition, he is leading a new inquiry into the shape and content of the current crop of devolution deals, and whether the city-based, mayor-dependent model really is the best way forward. He is not alone in thinking that while any march towards devolved power and money represents progress, there are risks and dangers that other areas, layers of government and aspects of public services might just be missed out completely. 

Cllr Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield City Council, makes a similar point in our interview with her on page 26. In her capacity as a cabinet member in the Core Cities group, she makes a strong case for place-based public services, with the authority and budgets this implies. 

There’s lots more in this edition too, of course: a whole clutch of government ministers, senior civil servants (and former civil servants), councillors and officers, campaigners, analysts, chief executives, lawyers and commentators. Let us know what you think of what they have to say.

Adam Hewitt

Editor

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Scandal-hit Conservative council elects Labour leader

16/10/2018Scandal-hit Conservative council elects Labour leader

Labour have managed to take control of a Conservative-led council following an “internal war” among the Tory councillors, with Labour... more >
Councils found more than £300m in fraud during 2017-18

16/10/2018Councils found more than £300m in fraud during 2017-18

UK councils detected or prevented a total of £302m in fraud in 2017-18, according to CIPFA. The organisation found that the number of ... more >
Former Westminster council pensions boss found guilty of £1m fraud

16/10/2018Former Westminster council pensions boss found guilty of £1m fraud

A former employee of Westminster City Council has been found guilty of stealing nearly £1m from the council pension fund. Ian Woodall,... more >

comment

Inspiring leadership in social value

15/10/2018Inspiring leadership in social value

We have learned a lot since the last National Social Value Conference, with many organisations both in the public and private sectors now embeddi... more >
Is fair funding possible, or pie in the sky?

15/10/2018Is fair funding possible, or pie in the sky?

David Phillips, associate director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, discusses the current health of local government finance, and how a bette... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >
The Convention of the North

15/10/2018The Convention of the North

Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, discusses the findings of the very first Convention of the North, which was held in Newcastle... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >

interviews

Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >
Michael King: Time for Ombudsman reform

06/08/2018Michael King: Time for Ombudsman reform

Michael King first joined the Local Government Ombudsman service back in 2004 as deputy ombudsman. At the start of 2017, he was appointed as the ... more >
Helping a city understand itself

06/08/2018Helping a city understand itself

SPONSORED INTERVIEW The urban landscape is changing. How can local authorities keep up with citizen behaviour? Stephen Leece, managing directo... more >
Modern policing: the future is bright

06/08/2018Modern policing: the future is bright

SPONSORED INTERVIEW The public sector, and policing in particular, has often been criticised as being slow to adapt to change. But now, says L... more >

public sector focus

500 jobs could go as city council eyes 5% tax hike to tackle £28m deficit

11/10/2018500 jobs could go as city council eyes 5% tax hike to tackle £28m deficit

Up to 500 jobs are at risk at Wolverhampton and residents face a council tax rise of 4.99% in what has been described as “the most significant financial challenge the council has ever faced... more >
Government removes intervention in Tower Hamlets LBC

05/10/2018Government removes intervention in Tower Hamlets LBC

James Brokenshire has formally ended the government’s intervention in Tower Hamlets London Borough Council following “significant improvements” in a recent review. The Mini... more >

the raven's daily blog

What cities should become

15/10/2018What cities should become

Tom Leaver, project manager at Future Cities Catapult, examines the rationale behind the creation of the City Data Sharing Toolkit, and explores how this is driving a seismic shift in how cities evolve into our data-rich future. We’re used to big-screen sci-fi future cities being dystopian monoliths to everything wrong with the worl... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >