Think you understand the financial and resource pressures that your partners in the local authority are facing?
A report published yesterday provides an interesting insight into some of the key issues and challenges. The Audit Commission report ‘Surviving the Crunch’ flags the need for councils to plan for the new economic challenges sooner rather than later. The report also makes clear that some places and some people will suffer more than others as, in many parts of the country, councils, schools, police, fire and NHS are among the largest employers, and, in cutting costs, councils must also consider the impact of those job losses on their communities.
The report graphically illustrates how important the public sector is as an employer in parts of the country, notably on Humberside, Merseyside and in the North-East.
In some places more than 35 per cent of all working women have jobs in councils, the fire service, police, schools or the NHS. I didn’t realise that women make up nearly three quarters of the public sector workforce. The research points to a potential double whammy for women who work for local public bodies, where their families may have already been hit by private sector job losses.
The report says that Councils must think bigger and act quicker to reduce costs, or funding cuts will cause more damage to services and jobs than necessary. Most councils have been cushioned from the worst of the recession because the government stuck to its three-year funding settlement, but this ends in 2011.
The message from the report is that councils must prepare now for leaner times. The best-prepared councils are taking action now to preserve services in the years ahead, but others have yet to make any financial plans beyond 2011.
- Audit Commission: Surviving the crunch
- Audit Commission: The transition from CPA to CAA
- Audit Commission: Use of Resources 2009
- The changing face of policing
- New guidance and review documents