Council bosses believe that while 2015 will be a year of deeper cuts, it will also mark the start of a step-change in the way they deliver services, according to new research.
A new survey, conducted by Civica, reveals that nearly three-quarters (73%) of local authorities think efficiency cuts will be deeper this year, with 63% saying libraries, leisure facilities, youth centres and parks will suffer as a result.
A third of those surveyed also thought road repairs and building maintenance will deteriorate in 2015, with 28% saying adult social care will be compromised.
However, more than half (51%) of directors and managers also say they will transform public services this year, with 61% predicting a shift towards self-service for residents. Of those surveyed, 58% are planning more strategic partnerships with the private sector, and 29% hope to focus on revenue generation.
Kim Ryley, chair at SOLACE in Business, said: ‘The good news is that the majority of councils have plans to move quickly beyond just making efficiency savings. Instead, they will put in place new collaborative arrangements with sympathetic private sector partners, and find new ways to raise money for necessary investment in better services and in the new technology essential to compensate for their shrinking workforces.’
The research shows that the majority of councils are using new technology to help balance budget cuts, with 60% making progress with the adoption of cloud-based software. Three quarters are also moving towards integrated online services, with 58% expecting local authorities to embrace multi-channel payments more widely.
Paul Bradbury, group business development director at Civica, said: ‘It is imperative that all organisations think differently and work with strong and stable partners who share a common vision and commitment. Local public services have performed an unprecedented job in adapting to 30% cuts since 2011, but the pace of change and the expectation to meet financial and societal challenges is accelerating.’