There is a yawning gap between the capacity of local government and what is needed for the present and the future. The capacity gap, which is made up of volume, knowledge, skills and behaviour, extends from councillors and top management teams through to operational managers. These findings have emerged from research commissioned by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and carried out by the Office for Public Management.Evidence to support the findings included an Audit Commission survey of people who had resigned from their posts. 49 per cent said that not feeling valued by their managers was an important factor in encouraging them to leave, and 32 per cent also cited a poor relationship with their line manager as a reason for leaving. One in five, also reported that more support from their manager would have helped to persuade them to stay in their job.
Capacity to deliver in partnership will become increasingly vital and skills need to be developed. These include mixing and packaging resources from different sources, and levering external third party resources into new initiatives. Capacity building to support partnership working also means investing in people through improving their ability to work across boundaries. All parties to partnerships require time to learn collective capacity building skills – negotiation, influencing, brokering, networking, resource packaging, information sharing and building trust.
A survey by the OPM showed that councils, who employ about 1 million people, provide an average of 1.6 off the job training days per employee per annum. The average expenditure is 152 pounds per employee per annum, of which just under two fifths was spent on professional or management training/qualifications. The survey also showed that Councils spent an average of 178 pounds per head per annum on council member development. The report questions the adequacy of this expenditure given the size of the task.
Last month Local Government Minister, Nick Raynsford, launched a capacity building programme with a 27 million pound budget. The new fund will underpin the Government’s commitment to provide support for officers and members in all local councils, enabling them to develop and strengthen their corporate capacity to deliver improvements to their communities.