Richard Vize Public Policy Media Ltd
LATEST ARTICLES
CV
Can the markets ever work for councils? 27 April 2012 Despite the apparent collapse of Suffolk's "commissioning council" plans (I say apparent because they are quietly implementing many of their ideas but without frightening the residents with any more talk of "burning platforms"), local authorities are still grappling with how to make commissioning and markets work for them as budgets fall. Many of the issues were aired at a seminar hosted by the Institute for Government last week. Just as being force fed is unlikely to increase one's appreciation of food, local government has never quite recovered from being forced to outsource what were then known as blue-collar services in the 1980s. For some councillors, the impression of voracious contractors making excessive profits for delivering low quality services has never gone away. In truth, both sides were learning: contracts were inflexible, excessively detailed, focused on process and, thanks to the legislation, based on what was considered cheap rather than good. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Adult and child care heading for trouble 13 April 2012 The government is getting into difficulties on both adult and children's social care. In each case there are three problems: funding, reform and ministerial rhetoric. In adult care, the government is in denial about the consequences of falling funding and rising demand. Care services minister Paul Burstow appears capable of standing next to a building billowing smoke and flames and saying there is no fire. In recent evidence to the health select committee, he claimed the funding settlement plus savings from redesigning services meant everything was fine. Any cuts were local authorities' fault, apparently. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has added to the confusion by claiming that there is a funding gap of up to £25bn. This was based on scaling up a study of need in Birmingham to cover the entire country. Councils can't expect ministers to play straight with the funding facts if their own advocates make such extravagant claims on such thin evidence. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ 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. This is not a cut or a saving; this is a profound shift in national priorities, and it has been all but invisible in the media coverage. 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. But in the following years council comms went through a period of rapid professionalisation. 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. History tells us that concordats between central and local government are a waste of time. Both Tony Blair and John Major signed such bits of paper, and they proved to be worthless. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network
March to April 2012
Richard Vize Public Policy Media Ltd
LATEST ARTICLES
CV
Can the markets ever work for councils? 27 April 2012 Despite the apparent collapse of Suffolk's "commissioning council" plans (I say apparent because they are quietly implementing many of their ideas but without frightening the residents with any more talk of "burning platforms"), local authorities are still grappling with how to make commissioning and markets work for them as budgets fall. Many of the issues were aired at a seminar hosted by the Institute for Government last week. Just as being force fed is unlikely to increase one's appreciation of food, local government has never quite recovered from being forced to outsource what were then known as blue-collar services in the 1980s. For some councillors, the impression of voracious contractors making excessive profits for delivering low quality services has never gone away. In truth, both sides were learning: contracts were inflexible, excessively detailed, focused on process and, thanks to the legislation, based on what was considered cheap rather than good. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ Adult and child care heading for trouble 13 April 2012 The government is getting into difficulties on both adult and children's social care. In each case there are three problems: funding, reform and ministerial rhetoric. In adult care, the government is in denial about the consequences of falling funding and rising demand. Care services minister Paul Burstow appears capable of standing next to a building billowing smoke and flames and saying there is no fire. In recent evidence to the health select committee, he claimed the funding settlement plus savings from redesigning services meant everything was fine. Any cuts were local authorities' fault, apparently. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has added to the confusion by claiming that there is a funding gap of up to £25bn. This was based on scaling up a study of need in Birmingham to cover the entire country. Councils can't expect ministers to play straight with the funding facts if their own advocates make such extravagant claims on such thin evidence. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network ____________________________________________________________________ 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. This is not a cut or a saving; this is a profound shift in national priorities, and it has been all but invisible in the media coverage. 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. But in the following years council comms went through a period of rapid professionalisation. 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. History tells us that concordats between central and local government are a waste of time. Both Tony Blair and John Major signed such bits of paper, and they proved to be worthless. Read the full article on the Guardian local government network