IN A SERIES OF ARTICLES, RICHARD GAWTHORPE EXAMINES HOW LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND THE WIDER PUBLIC SECTOR CAN RESPOND TO RISING DEMANDS ON THEIR PROPERTY SERVICES WHILE GRAPPLING WITH CAPACITY CHALLENGES WITHIN THEIR ORGANISATIONS.
The government is investing significantly in infrastructure and place. The first round of allocations of the £1.7bn Levelling Up Fund have been announced, promising investment in the infrastructure that improves everyday life in the UK.
Now, however, we need to turn our attention to delivery – and, once again, that raises the issue of capacity and appropriate skills and experience within local authority teams.
Councils have innovated, reimagined and changed the ways they work to deliver significant savings and efficiencies. But there is only so much that they can do in the face of large reductions in government funding and increasing demand for their services
At the same time, the funding landscape is becoming more complex and overstretched teams are struggling to resource bidding activities with actual delivery on the ground.
As Pooja Agrawal, CEO of Public Practice wrote in the MJ after last autumn’s budget, there is a Catch-22 situation here.
She said: “Authorities with already stretched resources [will have to divert] capacity and time to bid for this funding, leaving some authorities with no resource to even consider bidding for funding, therefore deepening the resource gap.”
The current situation with a shortage of capacity does make working within the built environment in the public sector challenging, yet there is light at the end of the tunnel.
One long-term solution is public/public partnership, an area that we at the Norse Group, a 100% local authority-owned company, are very experienced in, especially via our multi-disciplinary property consultancy Norse Consulting.
For example, having been Norfolk County Council’s property and multidisciplinary design partner for over 25 years, Norse Consulting has a close relationship and partnership with the client, and this ensures the authorities property needs of the authority are consistently met.
Sharing best practice, knowledge and experience gained from its suite of offices across the UK, Norse Consulting continues to provide resilience, capacity and expertise to meet an ever-changing property landscape.
The “unprecedented” global pandemic has taken its toll on the public sector and left many local authorities reeling.
From the moment it hit, it required new ways of thinking and very different approaches and that is what is also required when it comes to dealing with this issue of lack of capacity.
Local government has no alternative but to step up now and look ahead with new purpose.
There are short and long-term solutions to dealing with the issues of lack of capacity and shortage of skills, especially within the built environment.
And among those is the option of working in partnership with a trusted public sector partner like Norse Consulting.
This article is part of the Rising to the Challenge series. For more information on creating capacity within your own teams contact Richard Gawthorpe via Richard.Gawthorpe@norsegroup.co.uk or call 01603 706140.