At Pannone public sector summit in Manchester today and a healthy turnout despite the weather, have a quick look on the delegate list and there’s more consultants and lawyers than local government people. However the speaker line up is first class.
Dubious about introduction from Pannone speaker who says George Osborne has played a blinder so far in shaping the debate on shifting services from the public to the private sector!
Cllr Richard Kemp then does his usual impressive stuff on behalf of the LGA giving the message that the answer to current financial predicament in public services is found in joining up services across the public sector led of course by the democratically elected bit – local government. He urged the many lawyers in the audience “be bold, be brave, don’t act like lawyers.”
Tony Travers from LSE points out that it is highly unlikely that the private sector will pick up the slack from the cuts in local economies that have the highest dependency on the public sector at present. The cuts are therefore going to leave some public sector dependant local economies devastated in the long term.
Chief Executive of SOLACE, David Clark states that public spending is the tightest since the Second World War with the CLG budget the worst hit of all departments.
Manchester City Council Chief Executive Howard Bernstein argued that national models of service delivery don’t work, if we have learned one lesson over the last ten years or so then it is this. His view is that it is about locally tailored solutions. Ged Fitzgerald currently Chief Executive of Lancashire County Council, but soon to fill the same role at Liverpool, spoke about the ten year partnership deal they have just signed with BT and its potential for expansion. I asked him about the fact that much of the business plan for expansion is built on gathering work to provide services for other local authorities and the wider public sector, at a time when these same organisations will be drastically cutting budgets. Ged pointed out that this is an opportunity for Lancashire but my fear is that we will only be shifting jobs around in a diminishing public sector rather than creating new jobs.