Posted on Wednesday 25 March 2015 by Ulster Business

Northern ireland super councils a model for gb council reform

Councils in England, Scotland and Wales expect to follower Northern Ireland's super council model to ensure services such as bin collection aren't impacted by austerity

Northern Ireland’s “super councils” are likely to provide a model for reform of authorities across the rest of the UK, according a report from business advisors PwC.

In a survey of local government leadership, it found nearly half of GB council leaders believe that following Northern Ireland’s lead is the only way to protect frontline services in the face of continued austerity.

In Northern Ireland, the reform of local government will see the reduction of 26 councils to 11, with the new councils taking over in April 2015.

PwC Northern Ireland chief economist Dr Esmond Birnie said councils in GB are struggling to take advantage of the opportunities offered by decentralisation, nor the opportunities offered by digital and data analytics to transform services.

 “The business model of the public sector is changing rapidly as decision makers are challenging the traditional role of the public sector within a local area,” he said.

“However, the greatest challenge is acknowledging that the role of government – whether local government or devolved regions and cities – is to plan and manage outcomes; and that does not necessarily necessitate controlling and managing the processes, plant and the people that deliver the outcomes.

“Some local authorities are already discovering that intelligent analysis of their data will help them form new priorities, smarter interventions as well as better, more informed choices and efficient ways of working. “

“More devolution and decentralisation to regions and cities is on the way and proving they have the local capacity, capability and accountability to deliver on decentralised powers will be critical for councils in 2015 and beyond.”

The report, the Local State We’re In 2015, asked over 100 chief executives and leaders across GB about their prospects and also polled 2,000 council tax or rate payers across the UK.

Around 52% of ratepayers in Northern Ireland said they oppose further cuts in local council provision, despite the fact the scale of cuts here has been less than in other regions.

“Putting that together with partnerships in the private, community and third sectors can create smart, hybrid service delivery that anticipates community needs and delivers services efficiently and cost-effectively. 

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