Thursday, 1 July 2010

Northampton and austerity

Surprised to see David Kennedy in the Guardian discussing austerity in local government. The question going through my mind is whether it is really possible for doing more with less. I believe it is possible to change the way services are delivered to provide something better for a large volume of people with a certain set of needs but event that change costs money in the short term. It is certainly true that local government still doesn't know the actual amount of money that will be delivered or even how much they can generate themselves. However what is really clear is the future is going to be brutal in particular for those who are disadvantaged with multiple needs having to be addressed.

For those of us in the third sector there is even more uncertainty. For a government which talked about the opportunity of "Big Society" what's on offer seems to be considerably less than that. Ken Clarke yesterday suggested that third sector organisations could help offenders find jobs and be paid piecemeal only if an offender found work. In this economic climate certainly not a proposal that would survive the dragons den.

In the meantime, the County Council has released it's third sector commissioning strategy which simply isn't clear enough about what it is they we actually commission. For smaller groups the prospect of a small grants scheme is to be welcomed bringing a more open process to almost the grace and favour approach for doing small scale short pieces of work. Already this year with the demise of Ability Northants, it's no wonder that many in the sector are sceptical about commissioning given that local groups partnering together don't seem to be winning the goods. It seems that there will be a bit or a lot of a cull in the days ahead,

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