Local government

  • Neil McInroy

    Chief Executive

  • Amanda Stevens

    Senior Researcher

  • Let’s democratise the insourcing revolution!

    CLES welcomes the publication of the Labour Party’s report, Democratising Local Public Services. Its bold plan for a 21st century insourcing offers a powerful corrective to the last four decades of outsourcing, commercialisation and, more recently, unprecedented austerity. It appeals to all who have been working to combat the hollowing out, privatisation and undermining of our public services.

    However, there are some changes in emphasis and direction required. CLES agrees that insourcing of local public services should be the default position, and that far too much outsourcing is delivered by those who seek profit and extract wealth at the expense of the public service. Nevertheless, we should be building a resurgence of a public service movement and offer a hand to the many organisations and individuals who, whilst not directly part of local government, are equally passionate about public values, public services and are at the forefront of a movement to develop new forms of democratic and citizen involvement. Democratic institutions such as cooperatives, and participatory democratic forms such as community businesses and social enterprises, offer different ways of realising social, economic and environmental value. These organisations are far removed from the rapacious greed of large outsourcers and as such should have some role in the democratisation, delivery and part ownership of service production.
    “We should be building a resurgence of a public service movement and offer a hand to the many organisations and individuals who, whilst not directly part of local government, are equally passionate about public values, public services and are at the forefront of a movement to develop new forms of democratic and citizen involvement.”
    So, whilst Labour’s paper provides an excellent correction to years of marketisation and privatisation, a deepening democratic and social revolution for our public services cannot solely begin and end at the town hall. Clearly, back door outsourcing – where small alternative forms of delivery are eventually acquired and gobbled up by big private outsourcers – must be guarded against. However, the democratisation of our local public services must make provision to include, where appropriate, other socially just forms of delivery. Consequently, the debate here is not solely public sector insourcing versus private sector outsourcing.

    Celebrating eight years of community wealth building in Preston

    Much has been said about the so-called “Preston model” – a new economic approach developed by the City Council, against the grain of much conventional thinking on economic development. In eight years, Preston has shown that a different model is possible. The deep, practice-focused work now stands as proof that community wealth building can drive real change.

    That is why we’re proud to today be releasing How we built community wealth in Preston; achievements and lessons. This publication, jointly produced by CLES and Preston City Council, is the definitive telling of the story and the theory behind the ‘Preston model’, written by two organisations who have led on this work from the very beginning.

    Taking forward New Municipalism in London

    Following years of austerity, wealth extraction and an economy incapable of responding to social needs, the global New Municipalist movement is taking root here in the UK.  In a new publication, New Municipalism in London, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) introduces this new concept and, with the London Boroughs of IslingtonHackney and Camden, shows how it is being taken forward.

    Like many world cities, London is both a beacon of extravagant wealth (London is the fifth wealthiest city in the world) and grinding poverty (27% of London’s citizens live in poverty).  Huge levels of speculative investment and gentrification are pricing ordinary Londoners, communities and businesses out of their own city.  Councils reeling from austerity and cuts to vital services are now contending with hollowed out local economies, denuded services and social pain.  New Municipalism is a deep intentional fightback against this status quo.  It rejects trickle down  inclusion after growth, and recognises that service transformation and ‘more for less’ system change is inadequate.

    The Spring Budget: Robin Hood in Reverse?

    In the Budget, wealthy businesses in thriving parts of the country were granted a smoother transition to their new higher business rates bill. This easing-in period for successful businesses will be subsidised by a “fair” increase in National Insurance Contributions by 1% to 10% for the self-employed – raising £145m a year by 2021/22.

    Whatever happened to economic development?

    Budget day for the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) used to be one of intrigue and relative excitement. In the 2000s, the Budget was supplemented by a specific annex focused on economic development and regeneration. Indeed, the Budget was where we saw exciting new renewal initiatives announced; reviews of sub-national economic development formulated; and new duties and funding initiated.

  • Victoria Bettany

    Senior Researcher

  • BULLETIN

    Devolution: Beyond the rhetoric

    22nd November 2016
    'Devolution: Beyond the rhetoric’ is a six-point think piece that challenges the Government narrative on devolution. It explores...
  • BULLETIN

    How places could and should respond to the Chancellor's Budget

    16th March 2016
    This CLES Bulletin details CLES’ thoughts on the 2016 Budget....
  • Austerity has eroded the value of public sector work

    The UK was once proud of local government and its employees. Today, through a combination of disrespect and neglect, we are dangerously blasé. Today, a dark cloud hangs over them despite their great efforts in very hard times. Talented people have left, and, as services reduce, capacity is being hollowed out.