The fact that local government funding has fallen consistently is no great surprise to anyone - we’ve all been living with the effects of austerity for the last 10 years.
What may be more surprising is exactly how much funding has been cut, particularly in London.
London local government has seen the core funding it receives from central government reduce by 63% in real terms since 2010. This equates to £4bn less income than a decade ago.
This loss of income simply isn’t sustainable. Local government needs to adapt in order to meet the needs of a population that continues to grow, and whose citizens have come to expect a certain level of service.
In an ideal world the simple answer would be to increase funding. But realistically austerity continues, and the sector must face the significant challenges it brings with a new approach - one that not only makes full use of what funds are available, but also looks across the business for transformation opportunities. This isn’t just about the use of technology - although technology can form a significant part of the solution - it’s about finding and adopting additional opportunities for change that are available.
London local government should be asking a whole host of questions around how it currently operates, for example:
- Is more hot desking possible?
Removing the need to have an assigned desk for members of staff - each of whom for example has 4 weeks holiday a year - and encouraging flexible working can help significantly reduce accommodation costs.
- Are you spending too much money on traditional internal services ie printing and storage?
Look across the organisation to see where going digital could offer long term savings.
- Are there other ways in which income could be generated?
Many councils are becoming increasingly aware of the need to look at income generating opportunities in order to become more financially independent.
Local government needs to embrace digital transformation as one of the major mechanisms to help instigate change. The report into the public sector by Deloitte’s that discusses the main challenges faced by the sector revealed the top 3 drivers for digital transformation: cost pressures, customer demand and central government directives. Embracing cultural change within the sector to work smarter (with solutions such as hot desking, mobile working and Unified Communication), evolving the procurement process to become more flexible as well as becoming more enterprising by developing a commercial strategy (for example, charging for selected services such as waste management) are all opportunities that have the potential to alleviate some of the strain on limited resources.
Historically the private sector has been quicker to adopt change to improve their digital capabilities. For example, in 2003, HSBC announced that it would move towards hot desking for its traders in Canary Wharf. The public sector is now becoming much more aware of the significant benefits digital transformation can bring.
With the stark figures around reduced funding in London, never before has it been more important to embrace a longer term solution to doing more with less.
Please do get in touch with me if you'd like to find out more:
020 7613 7464