2024: Our Predictions for Local Government
2024 will be an interesting time for Local Government. Jonathan Clark, Partner and Head of our Government Practice, discusses his predictions for the trends, challenges and opportunities for the sector over the next 12 months.
An impending General Election and strained public finances will be the two predominating themes for 2024 in Local Government.
National, regional and local economic growth, jobs, statutory health, care and education services, implementation of legislative acts and reviews from last year, devolution, different delivery models and structures, service and system transformations will, therefore, all be affected to some degree.
Notwithstanding the inevitable uncertainty which political and financial constraints create, they present a universal backdrop against which councils across the Country will need to plan and deliver, within the art of the possible and affordable. Some have already struggled during 2023, others will face similar challenges during 2024 and require support.
Councils will need to continue to deliver core statutory and universal services for those communities and residents they serve and, concurrently, ensure that they evolve to be both sustainable organisations, in every sense of the word, and fit for future purpose.
The fiscal landscape will remain a challenge to surmount, a bigger problem for some than others, restricting the ability of the public sector to be able to support the type of interventions, initiatives and programmes to catalyse and underpin economic development, regeneration and new homes. Additional service demands caused by cost-of-living pressures on residents and communities will further increase pressures on statutory services.
2023 saw a number of significant legislative acts, the major impacts of which will begin to filter through 2024. The Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023 comes into force as of April, alongside changes to consumer standards and tenant satisfaction measures. The long-awaited Levelling-Up & Regeneration Act 2023 with its focus on planning system reform and talk of an increase in development corporations pose opportunities both for organisations and individuals in the sector. Existing pan-regional partnerships and freeports have mostly made great strides, others should follow, but the funding landscape remains unclear.
Leading and supporting public service organisations through stabilisation and recovery, as seen during 2023, will require talented leaders at the most senior levels. For individuals considering a move into or within Local Government and public services, the ability to translate experience of effective leadership, financial prudence, customer focus and modernisation will remain attractive capabilities. On time, to budget, fit for purpose have never been so critical.
So, whilst there remain degrees of uncertainty and volatility in the sector, there is also much positive activity, energy and commitment. The opportunity for individuals with experience of leading through change, motivating teams and delivering high quality services for the public good is greater than ever before.
If you wish to further discuss any of the topics covered in this article or have a conversation about increasing the leadership capability within your government organisation then please contact Jonathan Clark.