Cllr Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council foresees a time when a genuine redistribution of power away from central government to local authorities means that councils really can provide local solutions.
A ship is safe in harbour – but that’s not what ships are for…
The council of the future will be very different – a smaller workforce, nimbler and more imaginative in their response to residents’ expectations and more representative of their communities.
By 2043 there will have been a fundamental redistribution of government funding. The Treasury & Whitehall will have loosened the reins and devolved sizeable budgets and responsibilities to local councils and local communities. Local authorities will benefit from a mature municipal bonds funding agency and there will be less ring fenced funding and more community budgeting across the public sector as a whole.
The devolution of power and funding will mean that councils will be freed up to tailor solutions to their local areas. But they will also have learnt to work across Borough differences and establish sub-regional groups of local authorities to address issues like waste, integrated health and social care and climate change.
Councils in 2043 will be building social and affordable housing and bringing together public sector partners to deliver joined up, preventative services. They will be more skilled in their ability to enable partnerships, encouraging voluntary and community sector organisations to deliver services and working across local authority boundaries to support families and communities. They will work more closely with the private sector and local businesses to develop strong local economies.
There will be greater accountability to local residents and greater democratic involvement as central government loosens its grip and local communities are empowered to play a more active part in decision making. The culture of dependency will be a thing of the past and there will be a greater interest for people to take an active part in their local communities, setting priorities, shaping their local area and building resilient communities.
Personally I can’t wait til 2043 – the sooner, the better!