Councils remain confident about their ability to manage funding cuts without impacting the quality of services or outcomes in the short term. But this confidence crumbles in the face of the longer term challenges ahead, and the gap between how councils see their own financial outlook and the health of the sector as a whole has closed. While in previous years, Leaders and Chief Executives thought it would be others who would end up in financial crisis, this year for the first time they are more concerned about their own financial futures.
With efficiency savings no longer enough, councils need to redefine what they do, as well as how they do it. Focusing on outcomes, taking much smarter approaches to technology and working in collaboration with private and public sector partners, as well as citizens themselves, will be critical.
The Local State We’re In 2014 charts the progress councils have made on this journey to date and the outlook for the future.