Leading major change – helping councillors to be central to the transformation and improvement journey

Posted on 14/04/2016 by Ed Hammond. Tags:

Local government is undergoing profound change – the pressure both to make financial savings, and to make sure that local public services are aligned to local people’s increasingly complex needs (especially around, for example, social care), presents a big challenge.

Councillors are the best-placed people to make considered judgments about how these changes should be planned and managed, and whether their impact (positive and negative) on local people is justified.

And yet councillors have, in some places, found it difficult to engage properly with plans for major change and transformation. The sheer scale of many change programmes, and the fact that they may at first glance appear esoteric and unconnected with how services are delivered on the ground, means that it they are easy to ignore. It is often not in the direct short term interest of senior officers to engage councillors on these changes either – often they have the potential to be politically contentious, and some council leaderships have sought to manage opposition by claiming that the changes they propose are “the only option”.

CfGS can suggest ways – based on comprehensive support provided to nine local areas over the course of 2014-15 – that councillors can play a central role in the change discussions that are currently happening in every council. From scrutiny and constructive challenge on the rationale for change, through to designing in mechanisms for ongoing scrutiny as big decisions are made and implemented, there is a role for non-executive members. We can help local areas to explore what this role might be and how it can be planned to add the most value.

Call Ed Hammond on 020 7187 7369 to learn more about what we can offer, and how we can help.

About the Author: Ed Hammond

Ed leads CfGS's work on devolution, transformation and on support to councils and other public bodies on governance and accountability.