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Six ways to save money quickly and sustainably without cuts

Martin Ellender

Despite some additional short-term wriggle room provided by the Autumn statement our clients’ medium-term financial positions still range from precarious to very precarious. For some councils this has created a brief opportunity to draw breath and find the big transformational ideas that will hopefully get them out of the woods this time.

I have been doing some thinking with colleagues on what these ideas are. Firstly, if anyone wants a list of hundreds of savings proposals collated from several of our clients (counties, London boroughs, METs), please get in touch – I’ll be very happy to share it.

Secondly, building on IMPOWER’s guiding mantra I asked colleagues to shortlist their “better outcomes cost less” big hitters. These are all what we call “good savings” initiatives that we have reliably deployed to save money in year 1 and more over the medium term; all whilst genuinely managing demand, improving outcomes and avoiding cuts.

  • Getting a grip on demand at the front door (one authority recently in the market for MTFS support identified 50% of its medium-term challenge as relating to runaway growth in demand for children’s social care – mitigate that where possible and everything else gets a lot easier)
  • Deploying strengths-based and relational practises at key high-volume demand points such as assessment and review
  • Prevention and early help spend and impact mapping – redistributing whole-Council investment in prevention and early help where it is proven to have the greatest impact
  • A holistic approach to assessing need, capacity and confidence within people services – using our analytical tools such as VCARE and VSEND to enable better conversations about need and provision within care systems, leading to early intervention, better care outcomes and better review
  • Tightening up interfaces between systems – sharpening insight and improving practice at key boundaries: e.g. transitions, interfaces between care and health and housing
  • Neighbourhoods models – following a neighbourhoods approach to rationalise and optimise services and assets within localities in a way that responds to local characteristics

But, here’s the thing. You may not have spotted anything startlingly new or innovative on the longlist (if you asked for it) or the shortlist. We are convinced that of the many problems facing local government, a lack of ideas is not one. The real challenge the confidence and capability to take on complex transformation and get it done.

We will be exploring the key concepts of ambition, grip, and execution in more detail with sector leaders over the next few months before sharing findings in the Spring. Our starting hypothesis is that most councils can do more of the hard stuff and less of the short-term cuts and tweaks, and they will achieve better results in both financial resilience and citizen outcomes if they do. We are committed to helping achieve this shift.

If you would like to be part of the conversation then please get in touch.

Written by

Martin Ellender

Delivery Director, IMPOWER



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