The Risk Business

Raheem Sterling defending the ball

Where do I start? First an uninspiring England draw to Croatia and then we taught Spain a footballing lesson in Seville. Ups and downs.

The public sector is a bit like that. One day we’re all hearing about more cuts in Somerset and the next day Mrs May – says we’re at the end of austerity (almost). This is despite 370 authorities saying that child services are being pushed to a tipping point.


And like my optimistic view of  football, the public have not accepted the changes being played out in every local council, CCG, and police force in the country. We continue to expect our public servants to deliver a wide range of services and every time local politicians, or Chief Constable or health leaders make cuts - twitter is outraged.


The point I’m making is that despite the rhetoric the public have not moved on. I don’t see any change in public attitude to public services. What I do see is leaders in the public sector continuing to face criticism from one protest group or another, whipped up by social media and the press? I see spirited defences of individual schemes, announcements about cuts but no resetting of the wider agenda.


And as there is no magic bullet and no quick fix on the horizon- many organisations are being forced to become more commercial and take calculated risks to earn money to replace lost funding or meet the escalating costs of social care.


There has been huge growth in public sector owned investment companies, renovating property or taking over commercial leases and numerous other income generating schemes.  Simply put - if the costs of borrowing are less than the income earned there is an opportunity. As a result we are seeing a complete reshaping of the public sector.


Having said all this I equally don’t think it is fair to expect local leaders and politicians to shoulder the responsibility for encouraging this change in culture alone – which is often the case. They have other pressures. What is needed is a concerted, coordinated response perhaps with national organisations such as the LGA taking a more proactive role at the forefront. We need a common set of messages and the public sector to be braver, more robust is setting out what the changes mean.


Nationally nobody is drawing a line in the sand and setting out the new reality.  We have to draw a line in the sand or the gap between public expectations and the reality will continue to widen.


Gareth Southgate has re set the agenda for English football. The same is needed for the public sector.

And there is the next world cup to look forward to…..