17 May New IDeA chief tells Learning Pool conference that cuts will be savage but to stay positive
Rob Whiteman, the new Managing Director of the Improvement and Development Agency for local government addressed the Learning Pool conference last Wednesday, telling the assembled delegates that the available spend to local government will go down by between 15 and 25% in the next 3 to 5 years.
Joining the IDeA from London Borough of Barking and Dagenham where he was Chief Executive, Rob commented on the challenges facing local government in his keynote address to this year’s Learning Pool conference.
The stark reality he said, was that “in the last 10 years we have seen public sector spending increase by unprecedented levels. The next 3 to 5 years will see equally unprecedented cuts which will take us back to 1997 spending levels.”
He did remind delegates though that “we still delivered public services in 1997 and we will continue to do so”.
Reflecting on his time at Barking and Dagenham, Rob described his success as having transformed a “high cost, low performing organisation into a high cost, high performing one”.
Referring specifically to the council’s Human Resource function, he told delegates how he had instilled a need to be flexible in delivering Human Resource and Organisational Development strategies citing the 1,500 job descriptions in place at LBBD for 4,500 staff as symptomatic of the bigger problem.
While he accepted that his personal target of just five may have been ambitious, Rob used this as an example of how local government needed to start thinking outside the box.
Rob will take up his new role at the IDeA today and he’s clearly got a big challenge ahead of him. The resounding response from LP2010 though, was that he was up to the task ahead.
Rob’s presentation ‘The importance of collaboration in 21st century government‘ will be available soon on www.learningpool.com