To 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.
Andrew Jepp, Zurich Municipal’s Director of Public Services, predicts that there will be fewer councils by 2043, but they will more entrepreneurial and traditionally outsourced services will have come back in house.
Local authorities have always been a reflection of the disparate communities they serve and in 2043 it seems unlikely we will have a society that is any more resilient in real terms than is currently the case. An increasingly older population, a fall in the ratio of those of working age to retirees and a population with complex needs will continue to put significant strain on our public services.
By 2043 we will have fewer local authorities as budget constraints and efficiencies will have driven the creation of unitary authorities in England with city conurbations emerging as well as mergers of existing unitaries in Wales and Scotland. Councils will be even more agile and self-reliant with few factoring central government grant in to their financial considerations. There will be more entrepreneurialism as local authorities continue to lead the way in the public sector in responding to the new reality. This will mean more revenue generation and considerable integration of public services led by local authorities where the democratic mandate will still be crucial.
I think the future will see many of the traditionally outsourced services coming back in house, either being delivered directly or through new service models such as mutuals or local authority joint ventures and probably delivering for larger geographic areas. As part of this, schools will be integrated back in to local government in some manner at least to ensure consistency and efficiency through economies of scale.
I think we will still have Chief Executives, sheep and cattle mowing the grass will be unlikely, parking restrictions will still be important and we will not go back to weekly waste collections. Critically, the dedication of local authority staff will still be a major factor in the success of local government in delivering essential services to their communities.