County council leaders argue that local authorities need a long-term funding settlement to invest in organisational resilience.
A new report from the County Councils Network (CCN) and IMPOWER has found that the ability of local authorities to quickly adapt to the daily challenges of the pandemic has been ‘testament to their willingness to grasp everyday disruption’.
However, it also argues that delivering on successful economic recovery strategies, revised budgets, and postponed service transformation projects could be challenging for councils whose workforce is exhausted by the pandemic and those with inadequate central resource to co-ordinate efforts.
Based on evidence from over 100 sector experts – including council chief executives, leaders, and senior councillors –, Riding The Waves: strengthening council resilience calls for a sufficient long-term funding settlement for local authorities in this year’s Spending Review so they are able invest in efforts to bolster resilience.
‘Local government has come out of the pandemic with its reputation enhanced and this is in no small part to the tireless work of staff across the country, with councils’ ability to adapt testament to their willingness to grasp every day disruption,’ said Simon Edwards, director of CCN.
‘Whilst facing fresh challenges every day, it has been ‘business as usual’ for many council services since the first lockdown, showcasing councils’ strong absorbative and adaptive capabilities. But 15 months on, staff who have gone the extra mile face burnout whilst horizon scanning is something some councils felt they could improve on.
‘This report is a key learning exercise from the pandemic and sets out how – and why – councils should invest in resilience from crisis events and be better prepared to predict disruption. This cannot be done on a shoestring though, which is why CCN will continue to make the case for additional funding.’
Jon Ainger, director of IMPOWER, said: ‘We are delighted to publish this report in partnership with the County Councils Network.
‘Investing in resilience is not a statutory requirement, it is a deliberate leadership choice to enable councils to deal more effectively with future disruptions and to be in a better position to operate within complexity.
‘We look forward to sharing the research findings with councils and the wider sector, and supporting councils in their journey to strengthen their organisational resilience.’
For more on the question of long-term funding check out Jon Ainger's article in The MJ (£).