Reliance on ever decreasing central funding for local councils means stark choices; cut services or find other ways to meet these on-going challenges. That is why APSE Scotland commissioned this guide for our member local councils to explore the dynamics of commercialisation in local government.
In 2017, we completed an APSE study of the work and world of the councillor and interconnected worlds of the council officer and the engaged citizen. Having been concerned then with horizontal relations between those who do politics at local level, we were asked to investigate the vertical relationships between local councillors and national politics in Holyrood and Westminster. Recent national and local elections have changed the political landscape in some areas of Scotland, and new political relationships are being forged at national and local levels as well as between them. We have therefore created a supplementary piece of research based on six interviews: two with MSPs, of whom one was a constituency MSP and the other a regional MSP, and four with local councillors. This supplementary paper is therefore intended to provide a further dynamic to the original report and take account of the emerging political landscape in Scotland.
The latest research from APSE and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) finds that a lack of investment in genuine affordable housing alongside deregulation of planning is reducing local authorities’ ability to secure the homes the nation needs.
Research published by APSE and written and researched by the Local Governance Research Unit at De Montfort University finds that as public service provision continues to be fragmented, diverse and largely unaccountable to the local public, local councils, as the only democratically elected institutions at a local level, are best placed to make sure that local networks are harnessed to ensure all actors and agencies are working in the best interests of the local area.
A new poll by APSE and Survation shows that the public are almost three times more likely to support local councils being responsible for local Buildings Inspections work rather than private inspectors
This report by APSE and the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) examines the role of good governance and scrutiny, highlighting how this is critical to the local government decision-making process.
This international research study conducted as a collaborative approach led by De Montfort University explores responses to austerity in leading European Cities analysing responses and the impact of austerity policies at a municipal level.
Research by APSE and CLES explores the impact that devolution in England is having upon the provision and delivery of frontline services in local government.
This new research for APSE Scotland focuses on the three worlds of local politics – that of the citizen, the council officer, and the councillor – and is interested in exploring what it takes to do politics in each of these worlds. Each entail different kinds of political work, which is undertaken on different terms and conditions. However, it is clear that these worlds only make sense in relation to one another.
The latest report from APSE and CIPFA explores the impact of property investment as a potential means of securing an additional and sustainable source of revenue for local authorities.
The latest research from APSE and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) reveals a desperate housing crisis, with councils warning of ‘severe’ need for affordable housing.
This report, by APSE and the New Policy Institute (NPI) explores the impact of austerity on neighbourhood services, and warns of the consequences of this continuing downward trajectory in funding which risks falling to a 60-year low.
A look at the alternatives available for the Welsh Assembly Government to create a more flexible and fluid system within which councils can construct arrangements for joint-working and co-operation which suited their specific needs
Collaborative research by APSE and Survation shows that the majority of the public would prefer the Government to invest in local areas.
This collaborative research between APSE and New Local government Network (NLGN) looks at the role that local government can play to support employability in their local areas.
New research, developed by Public Intelligence and APSE, highlights the importance of productivity in today's economy. It focuses on how local authority frontline services have managed to increase their productivity in recent years, despite any recent hardships.
This report argues that effective workforce planning can help to future-proof public service delivery by opening up a collective dialogue about the future shape and scope of public service, and the role of local employees and communities.
A new report on housing need in the UK published by APSE and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) calls for urgent Government action to deliver the homes needed in the UK. The report finds that despite ambitions to build one million homes by 2020, current housing policy is in disarray and much more needs to be done to deliver the desperately needed new homes.
By 2020, the combined current and capital spending by UK local government will be lower than at any time since before 1948, finds new research from APSE and NPI.‘Sustainable local government finance and liveable local areas: Can we survive to 2020?’ reveals that many of the things which local authorities in the UK have taken for granted for decades will be gone by 2020.
This Toolkit comes out in testing times for the green agenda and the renewables industry across the United Kingdom. Whilst there would appear to be difficulties as a result of national policy direction and the financial circumstances of local authorities, a longer-term perspective would suggest that now is the time for local government to expand its solar aspirations and this document seeks to help local authorities in Scotland to make good strategic and operational decisions that will serve them well in the future.
APSE’s latest piece of research, commissioned by APSE Scotland and produced by a collaborative team from Edinburgh University, Leeds Beckett University and De Montfort University, engages with ongoing debates over the future of elected members and local democracy in Scotland.
New research from two leading local government think tanks has found that whilst 93% of local councils are reporting cuts to street scene and public realm budgets there is still and urgent need for councils to adopt different approaches to cope with the budget cuts.
After a gap of many decades, local authorities are getting involved in the generation and provision of energy. Councils across the UK are embracing renewable energy schemes with positive outcomes for local residents, businesses and for their own budgets. Not only are local energy schemes having a positive impact on energy pricing, helping to address fuel poverty, but they are also tackling local economic issues. This research shows that there is a renaissance in local energy.
With significant pressures facing local government waste services, and 79% of APSE members reporting a further squeeze on waste and recycling budgets, a timely new research publication has been released. ‘Waste: A brave new world’ explores the pressures on budgets and looks across the UK at how local authorities are responding to new and existing pressures on waste and recycling services.
APSE latest research publication ‘Ensuring action on health and wellbeing’ explores the national framework for public health in England, the responsibilities of local authorities and the requirement to gather local health intelligence to guide commissioning decisions. The report also examines the opportunities that exist for catering and sport and leisure services to contribute to health and well-being within this new framework. It focuses in particular on the potential for interventions by front-line services in tackling obesity and promoting physical activity.
APSE and the TCPA have called for a radical new approach to renew the quality and availability of social housing in the UK. Following publication of a joint research report ‘Housing the Nation: Ensuring councils can deliver more and better homes’ they argue that by investing in social housing the new Government can help to create a basis for social housing renewal, and bring jobs, skills and regeneration to local communities. With recommendations for councils to be at the heart of a new build programme, facilitated changes to funding, planning and S.106 development rules as well as reviewing ‘Right to Buy’ this research publication is a timely and essential report to contribute to the debate on housing renewal.
Energy efficiency experts, YES Energy Solutions and APSE have developed a handy 'how to' guide for Local Authorities to learn about the benefits of introducing ECO and Green Deal initiatives.
The main purpose of the Guide is to strip down all the confusing technical jargon and simply explain how ECO and Green Deal work, what each scheme is trying to achieve and how Local Authorities can get involved. It's fair to say that ECO and Green Deal have become something of a minefield since their launch in 2013. There has been a lot of noise made about these flagship Government initiatives, but do Local Authorities really know what they are all about and how they could use them to cut CO2 and reduce fuel poverty? To find the answer you can download this FREE guide on the link below.
The policy issue of retail domestic energy in the UK has taken on a very high media profile over the past few years. A number of separate, but related issues have coalesced into making domestic energy bills a front line political agenda item. The legislative needs of agreed CO2 emission reductions, when combined with domestic housing stock conditions has meant keeping homes warm is not a cheap option.
Yet whilst domestic energy usage has fallen by over 6% average dual fuel domestic energy bills have risen by over 70% in under a decade.
This FREE to download publication explores the political, policy and practical implications of retail energy pricing.
The changing demands, requirements and expectations of the office of the councillor, like those of local government, are once again under scrutiny in Scotland. This 2014 study 'The future role of elected members in Scotland' surveys the beliefs and attitudes of elected members across Scotland. The survey generated returns from approximately 10 per cent of the 1222 councillors across the 32 authorities in Scotland. To supplement these returns, the survey was followed by a half-day focus group with elected members.
A new APSE research publication ‘Two Tribes? Exploring the future role of elected members’ has revealed sharp contrasts in attitudes between those in decision-making and 'backbench' roles. This new research study describes the existence of 'two tribes' among local politicians - with opinions on matters including local government political structures and capacity to improve services split according to roles rather than political persuasion.
In a new research report ‘Better business: Councils shaping markets for public value’, which was commissioned by APSE and written by NLGN, the organisations argue that whilst local businesses can bring valuable social, environmental, and economic benefits to local places, some private sector markets are failing to meet social needs and creating negative outcomes relating to ill health, financial vulnerability, and poor educational attainment which are picked up by local public services. Whilst national governments have a clear role to play in fixing these, local intervention can be preferable, or complementary, to a wider national approach.
The report provides a range of positive recommendations to enable councils to nudge or ‘budge’ business towards more socially responsible products and business practices.
This latest APSE research ‘Ensuring Change: Building capacity in local government’ produced in association with Public Intelligence explores how, in spite of the current economic conditions, councils remain as the ‘engine room’ of their localities.
‘Ensuring Collaboration: One way ahead for public-private partnerships’ aims to stimulate further discussion over how elected members, local government officers and public service providers can work collectively to manage change and transformation in public-private partnerships.
A new report has been published by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), which demonstrates how councils can be effective local water stewards.
APSE, in association with De Montfort University as part of the KTP programme, has produced a self-assessment toolkit to help health and well-being boards navigate their way through complex issues and find solutions that suit local circumstances. Following the transfer of responsibilities for public health under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, boards now face important strategic decisions. The toolkit has been designed to help them.
Local authority assets can play a major part in revitalising the UK's ailing town centres, but this is being overlooked in current national policy, according to a report published today by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE).
This report is based on research, undertaken in partnership between APSE and IPPR North, to explore ways in which local authorities can harness the best ideas of their workforce in order to use innovation to improve services.
Unprecedented financial problems coupled with demographic and environmental pressures call for a fundamental rethink of what the future role of local government should be and how effective services can be provided in the next decade and beyond.
In these times of austerity it is important that councils maximise sustainable benefits from their assets to ensure ‘value for money’, in all sense of the phrase, for local communities. This is why the concept of ‘resource efficiency’ becomes so critical.
As local authorities strive to address the impacts on their communities of the economic downturn and reductions in public spending, a debate is taking place about alternative visions of the future shape of local government itself.
A review of the role of co-operatives and mutuals in local public service provision. The interest in using co-ops and mutuals to deliver public services has never been greater – not least because of the Government’s commitment to creating a ‘Big Society’ through introducing a greater diversity of public service providers.
A criticism aimed at the public sector by its detractors is that it is monolithic, bureaucratic and incapable of change. This report sets out to challenge this myth by demonstrating that innovation and entrepreneurship is alive and well in local government and rather than being a rare commodity, it is flourishing in local authorities up and down the country.
A report commissioned by APSE Wales, through APSE’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership with De Montfort University, that considers some of the practical issues involved in sharing services across local authority boundaries.
With the economic recession having a devastating effect on communities, families and businesses and beginning to impact upon front-line local government services and the future prospects for public spending, the time is ripe to review many of the initiatives and developments that have been at the forefront of local government policy and legislation over the past few years.
APSE has been vociferous in highlighting ways to maximise the local economic benefit of public investment and promoting sustainable energy projects. This report is unique in bringing these two pressing agendas together and exploring the impact of renewable energy on local economies. At a time of austerity and recession, renewables and energy efficiency schemes represent a real opportunity to invest in local economic growth, with a government guaranteed funding mechanism.
The word ‘outsourcing’ is common parlance in both the public and private sectors, but the practice of ‘insourcing’ has received relatively little attention. APSE embarked upon its examination of the trend towards insourcing – or returning to delivery of services by in-house providers – before the effects of the global economic downturn were fully evident.
This research commissioned for UNISON gives the detailed evidence of major contracts being brought to an end and services coming back in-house, benefitting service users, workers, and council taxpayers alike. This report was written by APSE under a commission from UNISON and is free to download.
A guide to using procurement to achieve community benefits
Global economic and environmental instability and the policy responses to this are focusing minds on what can be done to make communities more resilient locally. As public sector resources are squeezed, there is a need to achieve ever-greater value for every public pound.
Local government in the UK faces tough times. Money from central government is drastically reduced; income from council tax and other sources stagnates. Councils have to make difficult decisions about savings, service reductions, and cuts. Those decisions need supporting with good evidence about value for money, about what works, and about the likely impacts of different decisions.
In the wake of the Coalition Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) 2010 (HM Treasury, 2010a), Emergency Budget of 2010 (HM Treasury, 2010b) and subsequent local government finance settlements (Berman and Keep, 2011; Department of Communities and Local Government, 2010), this report begins to assess the impact of the ‘cuts’ for Sport and Recreation Services (SRS), responses to the ‘cuts’ and the options for SRS moving forward.