Reasons to be cheerful

By Mike Cooke | 13 March 2019

It would be easy to be pessimistic about the current state of the nation and the future for public services. Brexit uncertainty and the related political division is hardly inspiring confidence. In local government, optimism was dented many years ago by the staggering levels of cuts to funding combined with huge demand pressures. More broadly, national policy ebbs and flows at a perplexing rate – ‘bedroom tax’ and ‘pay to stay’ came and went – and a national consensus on adult social care funding seems as remote as ever.

And yet, as I step away from my position in Camden LBC, there are reasons to be very optimistic about the health of local government. As a sector we have shown deep resilience and ingenuity in responding to the financial challenges we faced. But more profoundly, many councils are rethinking their relationship with their communities, and innovating around a clear public purpose and what works best for them locally. There are plenty of important examples ranging from Wigan and its ‘Deal’ with its community, to Leeds and its work to become an age-friendly city, to Glasgow and its systemic work to tackle knife crime, to name but a few.

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Finance Management Brexit
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