This first six months of 2011 is likely to be the toughest period for local government in a generation, with the impact of the cuts becoming all too real. Redundancies, wage freezes and higher than anticipated inflation mean morale will plummet as the local government workforce knows it is being targeted unfairly to pay for the sins of others. A growing tide of resentment will lead to support for protests and perhaps industrial action.
Significant changes in political control are likely to occur at the May local elections when the Coalition’s popularity is tested. Towards the end of the year, local government may gradually become more sanguine despite a noticeable deterioration in service levels by an unhappy public. Post-cull, those that remain will be busy trying to do their best under less than easy circumstances. As the Localism Bill clears the Commons, many of its strongest advocates will be left disappointed as the rhetoric of third sector involvement manifests itself as marketisation of local services.