Abdool Kara is executive leader for local services at the National Audit Office and former chief execuitve of Swale BC
Let's think carefully about the best scale for delivering public services
We have seen a lack of sophisticated thinking by Government about the level at which COVID-19 initiatives were delivered, says Abdool Kara - and it looks like this may be a key theme in the NAO's ongoing coronavirus-related work programme.
The COVID review is yet to come
The NAO is being careful not to compromise the emergency response to COVID-19, but there will be a review to come, says Abdool Kara
The sector has continued to benefit from Best Value
Before COVID-19, Brexit, austerity and the recession came Best Value inspection - and the more objective chiefs now speak fondly of those days, and the net benefit of the regime, says Abdool Kara.
Sizing up the efficiency problem
If delivering efficiency is a driver for local government there are reasons to believe there may be a ‘right size’ for authorities, but as Abdool Kara reveals, history suggests other factors are at play.
We need a sector-wide perspective on PWLB rate increase
The sector might ask itself if a 'small' rate increase in the cost of loans from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) back to 2018 levels was the worst thing that could have happened,says Abdool Kara.
Extracting more value from local audit
Abdool Kara says the sharper focus on value for money and the expectation of clearer, more timely reporting is perhaps the most noticeable difference between the NAO's new Code of Audit Practice now out for consultation and the current code.
Reducing the risks from transition
The May local elections returned significant numbers of new councillors including new single issue groups. Abdool Kara examines the role of chief executives in actively managing the transition.
Cliffs, knives and U2
Abdool Kara is not sure that falling over or off cliffs is the right metaphor for what we could see in local government if the current funding trajectory continues.
NHS sustainability 'very difficult' without a long-term social care settlement
A series of significant National Audit Office reports on local services have emerged so far this year - and it is the most recent one on NHS financial sustainability that might have the greatest impact on local government, says Abdool Kara
Like Mariah Carey, it may be prudent to not want a lot for Xmas this year
Despite a number of minor successes, the position of the sector as it approaches the end of the year remains precarious, according to Abdool Kara
Let's explore obvious ways of reducing uncertainty
Searching for certainty in an uncertain world may be a fool's errand, according to Abdool Kara. But he believes there are some obvious ways of reducing uncertainty and they should be explored to help preserve services for the most vulnerable.
Stop trying to explain away poor performance
The sector needs to be more open and honest about poor performance, writes Abdool Kara.
Local government is 130 years old, but will it see its next decade?
The NHS's 70th birthday has been given significant news coverage, but Abdool Kara warns local government's pressures need similar attention.
Government must strengthen its oversight and assurance mechanisms
Readers of a certain age will vividly remember the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska. It was the second largest oil disaster in US history.
The words 'light touch' should never refer to public expenditure
Abdool Kara on local enterprise partnership accountability and transparency.
Abdool Kara: Councils are being economical with the truth
Different council groups are lobbying for a bigger proportion of government funding as ministers undertake their fair funding review – and some authorities are massaging the statistics to make their case. Abdool Kara explains.
Goodbye free-flowing grants; hello ring-fences and inspection regimes
Abdool Kara warns that if local government is lucky enough be offered extra funding or flexibility in the upcoming Autumn Budget, it is likely to come with strings attached.
Act as a united sector on commercialisation - or face regulations
If local authorities act with individual self-interest in the pursuit of commercial ventures, they could ruin it for the whole sector, warns Abdool Kara.
Uncertainty and a lack of DCLG capacity is hampering progress
Abdool Kara looks at the uncertainty facing local authorities and the depleting capacity in central government.
Countering the post-truth narrative
Good scrutiny can be a powerful lever for the greater and better use of evidence by councils to inform their decision-making, writes Abdool Kara.