11th October 2023
2024 is shaping up to be a year of uncertainty and change for local authorities across the UK. With a general election looming, local leaders are facing burning questions to which there are no clear answers. What kind of policy changes or laws might emerge if a new government takes office next year? Which existing policies and projects will be kept, and which will be scrapped? What will funding look like in twelve months’ time? Will the Levelling Up agenda and the drive towards devolution continue?
Long-term decision-making is a major challenge for local leaders, especially in the face of such political uncertainty. They may not be able to predict or even directly influence the policy and regulatory changes they face in 2024 and beyond. They can, however, prepare for and navigate that change. Could the key lie in harnessing the wealth of data they already hold?
Tapping the data goldmine
Local authorities are sitting on goldmines of data which are growing by the day as society becomes more digitised. Harnessing this data offers increased efficiency, productivity, savings and better outcomes for citizens. Right now, however, local government data remains a largely underexploited resource. The challenge of cracking the ‘data dilemma’ is not unique to local government. A recent survey of more than 550 civil servants commissioned by Civica revealed that Whitehall departments are similarly struggling to get to grips with their data. The data challenge for both local and central government alike is significant – but surmountable.
Tackle uncertainty with insights
In addition to the almost 800 services it provides to communities, local government faces an ever-expanding, complex web of legislation, regulations and reporting requirements. If a new government enters Downing Street next year, it will bring with it a fresh new policy agenda. Data-driven insights will play a critical role in helping local leaders navigate this agenda successfully.
Councils across the country are stymied by siloed, low quality data, sitting in multiple systems. A lack of effective data sharing and little or no reduces opportunities for early intervention, for example to support vulnerable citizens. By sharing their data in a transparent and secure manner, councils can better understand the needs of each citizen they serve and offer solutions which are tailored to individual circumstances.
Be on the front foot
Mastering data with the aid of novel technologies will ensure local authorities are not only ready for whatever policy change 2024 brings their way, but are also able to take full advantage of it. A new government could introduce new funding streams, or change the criteria for existing ones. Data-driven insights can help guide decision-making to ensure local authorities can get maximum value from any new funding sources, including supporting those most in need in the community.
One important development as we look towards 2024 is the creation of Oflog, the local government performance body. By providing authoritative and accessible data and analysis about the performance of local government, Oflog will allow local leaders to share best practice and ideas, ensuring ever improving outcomes for citizens.
Join us for a discussion
Would you like to learn more about how to improve data-driven insights to support your local citizens and communities? Register your interest today for our Civica Leadership Forum in January 2024 which will bring together senior leaders across the public sector.*
* This is a free-to-attend event for senior leaders across the public sector, including central and local government, housing and health care.