This article outlines how a range of bad news made the last year one of the most difficult years ever faced by local government. Local authorities have weathered these storms surprisingly well but there could be further bad news to come in the next Comprehensive Spending Review, which could bring more spending cuts. Some councils, however, are responding to these challenges by taking a more innovative and creative approach to services, including strengthening links between public and private sectors.
Drawing on his experience as leader of PA Consulting Group’s work in local government, David Fry commented on these issues, saying that there has been "less salami slicing of budgets" and more thought given to new ways of operating. He outlined his view that "The only way to respond to this situation is to be radical. You have to reinvent yourself".
He also stated that councils have managed risk well and that the need to reduce spending has not, to date, had a significant impact on the quality of services. David says that "The past ten years have seen a huge improvement in council performance. Performance assessments from the Audit Commission have made a big difference to how councils are run."