LATEST ARTICLES
CV
Health Act is Coalition's localist reform 30 March 2012 The passing of the Health and Social Care Act is the most important localist reform of this government. It brings with it great responsibilities; over £2bn of additional funding, and the best opportunity since the 1970s for local government to improve the health of its communities. The new directors of public health will be big players in the local authority. Reporting directly to the chief executive and with a ringfenced budget, their key skill will be engaging officers across the council so that public health begins to permeate everything the authority does. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Integrated care fails to deliver benefits 29 March 2012 Integrating care across the NHS and social care holds the promise of giving patients a better service at the same time as cutting costs. But a study for the government of 16 integrated care pilots shows just how difficult it is to do. The dream of happier patients, greater productivity, and lower costs never materialised. The evaluation of the pilots by Rand Corporation and Ernst & Young showed that after two years patient satisfaction was down, emergency admissions were up, and there was no clear evidence of cost savings despite falls in elective admissions and outpatient appointments. Read the full article at the British Medical Journal ____________________________________________________________________ No relief for councils from chancellor 23 March 2012 This was a bleak budget for local government. The long term spending projections buried in the Treasury's Red Book confirm that the financial pain for local services will stretch well into the next parliament. We have barely begun the age of austerity and there is no end in sight. The projections for government departments over 2015-17 contract even faster than in the autumn statement. Total managed expenditure – the best definition of public spending – will fall from 45.8% of GDP in 2011-12 to 39% in 2016-17. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Comms must surrender to social media 16 March 2012 Last week WeLoveLocalGovernment posted a fascinating blog on Monmouthshire's experience of allowing staff across the council to use social media. Both the article and the comments which it provoked highlighted the fact that using social media means challenging the primacy of the council communications department. Is that the right way to go? And what are the risks? Twenty years ago too few councils saw communications as central to their priorities, and fewer still had a communications director on the executive team. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Ministers play risky cohesion game 9 March 2012 The publication of the government's strategy for creating integrated communities has passed almost unnoticed, yet it has important implications for councils in what it does and does not say. The meagre coverage it attracted seemed to focus on the fact that it involved Pickles having a Big Lunch – an association that clearly caused the communities secretary some discomfort during media questioning. (It is actually an initiative launched last year to encourage people to share a meal with neighbours.) Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Can councils benefit from ‘devo-max’? 2 March 2012 With constitutional reform at the epicentre of current political debate – growing tensions over the House of Lords and the Scottish National Party trying to wring a federal UK out of the 2014 independence referendum – it is no surprise that the constitutional position of local government is beginning to be aired again. The Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, chaired by Labour MP Graham Allen, has raised the question of whether the relationship between local and central government in England should be codified, so Whitehall would see councils less as their local delivery agents and more as independent democratic bodies accountable to local people. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Dignity report has powerful messages 29 February 2012 The consultation document published today by the Commission on Dignity in Care for Older People has powerful messages about the role of hospital doctors and the training of doctors and medical students. The commission, a joint enterprise by the NHS Confederation, Age UK and Local Government Association, was established in the wake of investigations by Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Ann Abraham into shocking failures in the care of older people. (I should declare an interest – I wrote the commission’s report.) Read the full article at the British Medical Journal ____________________________________________________________________ Slashing scrutiny is a false economy 24 February 2012 Tony Blair's government essentially struck a deal with councils: hated restrictions, such as compulsory competitive tendering, were abolished but, in return, local government was given a sharper leadership focus – executive cabinets replaced the old committee system and overview and scrutiny committees were introduced. Scrutiny sounds fine in theory. A cross-party selection of backbench councillors investigate policies and performance, hold officers and councillors to account and open up the workings of the authority to the media and the public. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Welfare reforms are starting to unravel 17 February 2012 While councils have been devoting so much attention to coping with budget cuts and job losses, another problem has crept up on them: benefit reform. Of all the battles to be fought over local control, council tax benefit is one issue where the government has been delighted to live the localist dream. There were just two caveats when ministers announced that control of the benefit was being handed to councils; it had to be done quickly – by 2013 – and the bill had to be cut by 10%. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ The bully pulpit of Whitehall comms 10 February 2012 The National Audit Office has embarked on a study of how central and local government communicate. They will not be short of material. Communication from Whitehall and a smattering of other government outposts takes several forms. The most familiar and least endearing is what the Americans call the bully pulpit of ministerial office. The term bully had a less aggressive meaning when the expression was first coined by president Theodore Roosevelt. It now wonderfully suits the style of communication deployed by communities secretary Eric Pickles. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Shortsighted pay decisions bad for all 3 February 2012 As local government employers and unions move within reach of a deal on pension reform, the potential for long term conflict over pay is growing. The pressure is building right across the council workforce. A national pay freeze and a trickle of agreed or imposed pay cuts could be exacerbated by government plans to move away from national pay bargaining in favour of local pay rates. Meanwhile at the top end, severe cuts to chief executive pay packets are making the risks and pressures of those posts less attractive and pushing down on the salaries of other senior managers. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Plodding reply to police commissioners 27 January 2012 The government announcement this week that "super Thursday" – 15 November – will be the election date for both police commissioners and cities that opt for directly elected mayors comes as interest in the new policing system is growing. Police accountability is a messy issue in Britain. Polling data from organisations such as Ipsos Mori shows public satisfaction with the police force is weak; it generally hovers around the 50% mark or lower (similar to the average for local government). Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Why doctors and managers drifted apart 24 January 2012 The need for doctors to be working in concert with managers has never been greater, as the NHS tries to secure productivity gains which no healthcare system in the world has achieved. But why are medics so distant from managers, and are attitudes changing? The so-called Nicholson challenge to find £20bn of extra productivity by 2014-15 – equivalent to about 4% a year – is impossible without the commitment and expertise of doctors. Read the full article on the Guardian health network ____________________________________________________________________ Localist ministers trample democracy 20 January 2012 IThey just don't get it. Week after week the government that claims to be the champion of localism tramples on local government autonomy. In the past month there have been four occasions when Whitehall departments have micromanaged local affairs on major issues – local taxation, broadband, waste and troubled families. Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announced just before Christmas what even he admitted was a "challenging" timetable for councils to bid for £530m to fund the extension of superfast broadband (or as a South Korean would see it, incredibly slow broadband). Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ A fractious new year for council finance 13 January 2012 It has been a fractious start to the year for local government finance, with both the pension negotiations and government reforms to the council funding system under attack. Eric Pickles was at the scene of both crimes. The communities secretary's attempt to reform local government finance is winning few friends. In the second reading debate on the Local Government Finance Bill in the Commons on Tuesday, he complained about "grumblers" – and there are many. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ How does DH offload £300m in a hurry? 12 January 2012 The Department of Health is sitting on hundreds of millions of pounds it doesn’t know how to spend. As the Health Service Journal revealed last week (£), the DH has suddenly started scrabbling around for ways to use £300 million of capital budget. Some trusts have been given only seven working days to apply, others don’t even know about it. Read the full article at the British Medical Journal ____________________________________________________________________ Social care and education are the issues 6 January 2012 As well as trying to exploit the somewhat miserly opportunities presented by the Localism Act and continuing to both cut and innovate their way through the budget crisis, councils will have another big priority in 2012 – to reposition themselves in relation to both social care and education. After a stumbling start as education secretary, Michael Gove is leading an ambitious schools policy to which councils are struggling to provide a coherent response. The first flakes of the free schools movement and the avalanche of new academies are now being joined by concerted moves to allow schools to select pupils on ability. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network
January to March 2012
Public Policy Media Richard Vize
LATEST ARTICLES
CV
Health Act is Coalition's localist reform 30 March 2012 The passing of the Health and Social Care Act is the most important localist reform of this government. It brings with it great responsibilities; over £2bn of additional funding, and the best opportunity since the 1970s for local government to improve the health of its communities. The new directors of public health will be big players in the local authority. Reporting directly to the chief executive and with a ringfenced budget, their key skill will be engaging officers across the council so that public health begins to permeate everything the authority does. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Integrated care fails to deliver benefits 29 March 2012 Integrating care across the NHS and social care holds the promise of giving patients a better service at the same time as cutting costs. But a study for the government of 16 integrated care pilots shows just how difficult it is to do. The dream of happier patients, greater productivity, and lower costs never materialised. The evaluation of the pilots by Rand Corporation and Ernst & Young showed that after two years patient satisfaction was down, emergency admissions were up, and there was no clear evidence of cost savings despite falls in elective admissions and outpatient appointments. Read the full article at the British Medical Journal ____________________________________________________________________ No relief for councils from chancellor 23 March 2012 This was a bleak budget for local government. The long term spending projections buried in the Treasury's Red Book confirm that the financial pain for local services will stretch well into the next parliament. We have barely begun the age of austerity and there is no end in sight. The projections for government departments over 2015-17 contract even faster than in the autumn statement. Total managed expenditure – the best definition of public spending – will fall from 45.8% of GDP in 2011-12 to 39% in 2016-17. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Comms must surrender to social media 16 March 2012 Last week WeLoveLocalGovernment posted a fascinating blog on Monmouthshire's experience of allowing staff across the council to use social media. Both the article and the comments which it provoked highlighted the fact that using social media means challenging the primacy of the council communications department. Is that the right way to go? And what are the risks? Twenty years ago too few councils saw communications as central to their priorities, and fewer still had a communications director on the executive team. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Ministers play risky cohesion game 9 March 2012 The publication of the government's strategy for creating integrated communities has passed almost unnoticed, yet it has important implications for councils in what it does and does not say. The meagre coverage it attracted seemed to focus on the fact that it involved Pickles having a Big Lunch – an association that clearly caused the communities secretary some discomfort during media questioning. (It is actually an initiative launched last year to encourage people to share a meal with neighbours.) Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Can councils benefit from ‘devo- max’? 2 March 2012 With constitutional reform at the epicentre of current political debate – growing tensions over the House of Lords and the Scottish National Party trying to wring a federal UK out of the 2014 independence referendum – it is no surprise that the constitutional position of local government is beginning to be aired again. The Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, chaired by Labour MP Graham Allen, has raised the question of whether the relationship between local and central government in England should be codified, so Whitehall would see councils less as their local delivery agents and more as independent democratic bodies accountable to local people. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Dignity report has powerful messages 29 February 2012 The consultation document published today by the Commission on Dignity in Care for Older People has powerful messages about the role of hospital doctors and the training of doctors and medical students. The commission, a joint enterprise by the NHS Confederation, Age UK and Local Government Association, was established in the wake of investigations by Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Ann Abraham into shocking failures in the care of older people. (I should declare an interest – I wrote the commission’s report.) Read the full article at the British Medical Journal ____________________________________________________________________ Slashing scrutiny is a false economy 24 February 2012 Tony Blair's government essentially struck a deal with councils: hated restrictions, such as compulsory competitive tendering, were abolished but, in return, local government was given a sharper leadership focus – executive cabinets replaced the old committee system and overview and scrutiny committees were introduced. Scrutiny sounds fine in theory. A cross-party selection of backbench councillors investigate policies and performance, hold officers and councillors to account and open up the workings of the authority to the media and the public. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Welfare reforms are starting to unravel 17 February 2012 While councils have been devoting so much attention to coping with budget cuts and job losses, another problem has crept up on them: benefit reform. Of all the battles to be fought over local control, council tax benefit is one issue where the government has been delighted to live the localist dream. There were just two caveats when ministers announced that control of the benefit was being handed to councils; it had to be done quickly – by 2013 – and the bill had to be cut by 10%. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ The bully pulpit of Whitehall comms 10 February 2012 The National Audit Office has embarked on a study of how central and local government communicate. They will not be short of material. Communication from Whitehall and a smattering of other government outposts takes several forms. The most familiar and least endearing is what the Americans call the bully pulpit of ministerial office. The term bully had a less aggressive meaning when the expression was first coined by president Theodore Roosevelt. It now wonderfully suits the style of communication deployed by communities secretary Eric Pickles. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Shortsighted pay decisions bad for all 3 February 2012 As local government employers and unions move within reach of a deal on pension reform, the potential for long term conflict over pay is growing. The pressure is building right across the council workforce. A national pay freeze and a trickle of agreed or imposed pay cuts could be exacerbated by government plans to move away from national pay bargaining in favour of local pay rates. Meanwhile at the top end, severe cuts to chief executive pay packets are making the risks and pressures of those posts less attractive and pushing down on the salaries of other senior managers. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Plodding reply to police commissioners 27 January 2012 The government announcement this week that "super Thursday" – 15 November – will be the election date for both police commissioners and cities that opt for directly elected mayors comes as interest in the new policing system is growing. Police accountability is a messy issue in Britain. Polling data from organisations such as Ipsos Mori shows public satisfaction with the police force is weak; it generally hovers around the 50% mark or lower (similar to the average for local government). Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Why doctors and managers drifted apart 24 January 2012 The need for doctors to be working in concert with managers has never been greater, as the NHS tries to secure productivity gains which no healthcare system in the world has achieved. But why are medics so distant from managers, and are attitudes changing? The so-called Nicholson challenge to find £20bn of extra productivity by 2014-15 – equivalent to about 4% a year – is impossible without the commitment and expertise of doctors. Read the full article on the Guardian health network ____________________________________________________________________ Localist ministers trample democracy 20 January 2012 IThey just don't get it. Week after week the government that claims to be the champion of localism tramples on local government autonomy. In the past month there have been four occasions when Whitehall departments have micromanaged local affairs on major issues – local taxation, broadband, waste and troubled families. Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announced just before Christmas what even he admitted was a "challenging" timetable for councils to bid for £530m to fund the extension of superfast broadband (or as a South Korean would see it, incredibly slow broadband). Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ A fractious new year for council finance 13 January 2012 It has been a fractious start to the year for local government finance, with both the pension negotiations and government reforms to the council funding system under attack. Eric Pickles was at the scene of both crimes. The communities secretary's attempt to reform local government finance is winning few friends. In the second reading debate on the Local Government Finance Bill in the Commons on Tuesday, he complained about "grumblers" – and there are many. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ How does DH offload £300m in a hurry? 12 January 2012 The Department of Health is sitting on hundreds of millions of pounds it doesn’t know how to spend. As the Health Service Journal revealed last week (£), the DH has suddenly started scrabbling around for ways to use £300 million of capital budget. Some trusts have been given only seven working days to apply, others don’t even know about it. Read the full article at the British Medical Journal ____________________________________________________________________ Social care and education are the issues 6 January 2012 As well as trying to exploit the somewhat miserly opportunities presented by the Localism Act and continuing to both cut and innovate their way through the budget crisis, councils will have another big priority in 2012 – to reposition themselves in relation to both social care and education. After a stumbling start as education secretary, Michael Gove is leading an ambitious schools policy to which councils are struggling to provide a coherent response. The first flakes of the free schools movement and the avalanche of new academies are now being joined by concerted moves to allow schools to select pupils on ability. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network
Public Policy Media Richard Vize