Reigniting localism: three essays on the future of local government

Councils are in policy limbo. With Whitehall and Westminster fully absorbed by the unfolding drama of Brexit, and local government policy narrowed to dealing with the consequences of the Grenfell tragedy, little bandwidth remains for addressing more strategic issues.

How will local authorities be financed past 2020? What is the future of adult social care? Will the devolution programme continue and in what form? Without the answers to these key questions it is increasingly difficult for councils to make meaningful long-term plans for their communities.

It’s not all bad news. Councils themselves are finding innovative solutions at a local level, whether it be integrating with other public sector services, working creatively with community led organisations, finding efficiencies of scale at a regional level or driving local growth.

But the barriers remain. The LGiU’s policy work in 2017 has been focused on researching and addressing these barriers across three key themes: finance, democracy and services. We are now launching a series of essays, in which we will explore the main challenges facing councils in each of these three areas and identify some solutions for moving these issues forward.

In the first of the essays, Andrew Walker investigates the Greater Manchester experiment in devolution, lessons learned so far and challenges that remain.

In our second report, Jennifer Glover discusses the unprecedented financial uncertainty facing councils through the testimonials of senior local government decision-makers.

In our third and final essay, Ingrid Koehler reviews the adult social care crisis and makes the case for a shared local and national response.

It has never been more important that local government should speak with one voice. Our mission is to help councils to coalesce around a set of basic principles and to work together on solutions to their challenges. We hope that these essays will be a starting point for that discussion.

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