Innovation in Local Councils

Can Innovation save local councils?


The UK's 2010 Spending Review put a lot of pressure on local councils to scale back their costs and reshape the way they serve their constituencies. This has resulted in a number of adverse changes, including cutting senior management costs and making hundreds of thousands of redundancies. Yet despite these drastic cuts, there's been very little change to the services that these groups are offering, meaning that the people who are still working there are doing more work, with less resources. This is a truly remarkable effort on the part of these workers, but unfortunately is a trend that cannot last.

By 2018, some councils could be as much as 40% smaller than they were back in 2010 when the Spending Review was put into action. This is why many councils are turning to innovation as a way of saving money, with a third of respondents in a New Local Government Network survey agreeing that innovation would help councils reach their target of 50% on their target cuts.

As defined by The Guardian, innovation in local councils has come to be defined by anything that can save money or increase organisational efficiency. Indeed, the lack of resources at the local level of government frequently means that innovation projects fail to get off the ground. Strengthening personal networks and encouraging collaboration are touted as some of the ways in which innovation can be sparked as it's done in the private sector but would take workers away from their core tasks, something that local councils can't currently afford.

The problem is that although local councils seem set on innovating, they are failing to keep up with the speed of change due to the cost of new technologies, meaning that they are slowly but surely getting closer to financial meltdown. Another major issue is that a lack of skilled personnel persists, where councils are often unable to attract the best people because of the rewards that the private sector promises. Former British prime minister, Tony Blair, recently said that the political gene pool had been shrunk by low salaries and this is something that won't encourage innovation in local councils.

Whatever position your local government is in, there will be pressure on its senior officials to take their innovation projects to the next level. There are a number of challenges facing local councils, but one thing's for sure, innovation will play a hand in their future both now and going forward.


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