It’s 2020. The Coalition Government is nearing its second election (bear with me), which again looks likely to be closely fought, and is combined with a referendum on switching to STV, the price exacted for Liberal Democrat endorsement of Conservative candidates in marginal Labour seats.
Despite mixed success at first, and a disavowal of the branding, the concept of the Big Society has been a relative success. Communities and individuals across the country are more empowered to exercise control over the nature and delivery of services, and more involved in co-funding and co-delivery. A string of assets have been transferred to community organisations, and the parish model has spread, in name or in form, to more urban areas of England.
My Council has divested the majority of services, and is no longer accountable to central government for more than the barest minimum of performance indicators. Day to day running of services is overwhelmingly in the hands of the private sector, charities, community organisations, and mutuals of staff and service users. Local elected members are champions of their communities, and sit on the boards of a string of local organisations.
The Council continues to meet, approving large contracts, setting a policy framework within which bids are considered, and acting as the venue for major debates on issues of importance to the area and to engage with other agencies active in the local area. A core of staff continue to prepare policy advice, support local bids, manage strategic decision-making, liaise with Government, and oil the wheels of partnerships and democratic processes.
Groups of Councillors form Scrutiny Task Forces to take an outcome-focused look at key issues affecting the local area and call in witnesses from all sectors, making recommendation as to how we can work with one another and communities to drive better outcomes.
Right, so, that question.
What’s the Cabinet for?