The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) has published research setting out a new model for the future of local government – the 'ensuring council'.
While alternatives such as the 'enabling council' or 'commissioning council' strip away much of local government's service delivery role, APSE is advocating a model based on achieving strategic objectives through retaining core capacity to provide services.
‘The Ensuring Council: An alternative vision for the future of local government’, published by APSE this week, is based on research among elected members and officers across the UK. The term 'ensuring council' is drawn from Professor Anthony Giddens' book on the politics of climate change, where he contrasts the 'ensuring' state with the 'enabling' state.
The study challenges assumptions that strategic aims can be accomplished merely by acting as a ‘commissioner’ or ‘enabler’ of public services and exposes the lack of evidence to support such models.
Launching the report, APSE's chief executive, Paul O'Brien, said: 'Researchers found the majority in local government do not wish to divest themselves of capacity to deliver for their communities. The ensuring council model starts to articulate an alternative vision for the future of local government. This is built on the principles of democratic accountability, stewardship, public value, social justice, civic entrepreneurship, financial capacity and empowering local communities, underpinned by a core capacity of in-house services delivered in collaboration, not competition, with other providers.'
He added: 'The ensuring council model resonates with those of us who are passionate about local government because it means councils are 'doers' locally, rather than handing over responsibility to others. This enables them to join up strategic thinking with operational efficiency and gives greater flexibility in responding to ever increasing demands.'
The research was conducted as part of APSE's research partnership with De Montfort University, using the 'Q' technique to test out priorities and values of officers and elected members. It follows on from APSE’s recent research 'The Transition to the Green Economy; The role of the ensuring council’. Over the coming months, the Ensuring Council programme will carry out research on innovation and entrepreneurship.
For further information contact: Mo Baines, principal advisor at APSE on tel: 0161 772 1810 or firstname.lastname@example.org