LGiU the council of 2043: Laura Wilkes

30birthdayTo mark the LGiU’s 30th anniversary we invited 30 contributors to gaze in to a crystal ball and tell us how councils will be different in 2043.

Laura Wilkes, Former LGiU Policy Manager, explains how the council of 2043 will need to tackle both global and hyperlocal problems simultaneously in order to meet the challenges of the day.

We know that between now and 2043 the population is growing and ageing, rapidly; individuals and communities must become owners of deep rooted social problems; the public sector will get less money, not more; technology will transform how we live; and we must adapt to and prevent climate change. We also know that to address these issues, councils must transform, even if we don’t yet see the path to getting there.

This means that by 2043 councils need to tackle both global and hyperlocal problems, simultaneously. Councils have to work with neighbourhoods around very local issues determined by communities, which the citizens themselves take responsibility for. So councils must broker relationships in communities as a partnership of equals; invest in community infrastructure, data transfer and technology rather than commissioning services; and support communities to be self-sufficient and socially and economically equal. Community based social work and care must be part of this. Districts, parish and town councils, far from becoming unviable, must take the leading role in this.

Simultaneously, councils have to take on big, global issues, such as economic development, transport, infrastructure, the use of technology and energy markets. This can’t be done by small councils so a new wave of combined authorities will be ideally placed to adopt these functions. This mean that counties and unitaries will have to define a new role within this structure. With local councils and combined authorities working together, the layer in between could be less relevant.

Of course, we also know that predictions are often a mugs game. But given the scale of challenge coming by 2043, the consequences of not acting to deliver radical change, will be much more complex and problematic for communities.