Local government is facing unprecedented challenges. Our civic discourse seems to be in tumult, finances are dire, but people still rely on local public services for so much and this year our policy themes address each of these challenges.
Councils have some tough choices ahead. New duties on homelessness and the perennial problem of finding social care mean that there are increased tensions between helping out the vulnerable few and sustaining communities through universal services.
At LGiU, we have long argued that local government plays a key role in supporting local connection. From parks and libraries to community halls to local festivals and supporting sport for children and grown-ups, local government plays a key role in supporting social connection. Councils can do more to support connection with the choices they make in terms of planning and growth, too. But this is under threat. As I argued in a recent Guardian article these services are so important to combat loneliness and prevent people from slipping further into vulnerability.
This year our Services theme will continue to focus on some of our key issues like home care and housing. We will shortly be publishing a report looking at the human cost of cut price care and we have just published findings on councillors ‘views of the planning system and creative ways that councils can support more home building.
We know that services need to be delivered differently. We will soon be publishing new research on political leadership and digital transformation and we want to work with digital leaders and councils who want to transform the way they do business. But it can’t be in a business as usual kind of way. Too often we’ve seen digital solutions applied over bad processes, which is why we’re committed to helping councils develop design skills so that new ways of working really work for everyone. Our own work on CoCare a new app that helps to measure outcomes, monitor personal goals and create a network of support around people who need care is being co-designed with the people who will use it and developed around Kingston Council’s own plans to develop design skills in their work.
We’re keen to involve our members and other stakeholders in our work and to answer these key questions this year.
- How can we ensure more people have places to live?
- How can we make sure that people who need care can get it affordably?
- What’s next for digital local government?
- How do we support and strengthen civic infrastructure?