Local heroes?

Think tank: Social Market Foundation

Author(s): Richard Hyde; Niamh O Regan

January 25, 2024

This report from UK think tank the Social Market Foundation looks at the role of effective leadership and management in helping local government.

Local government plays a key role in delivering services to the public and developing local economies, and its role has evolved in recent years in response to a number of challenges.

This Social Market Foundation report looks at the role of effective leadership and management in helping local government meet these challenges and the obstacles facing leaders and managers in local government. Leaders and managers in local government consider leadership quality the most important factor influencing organisational success, yet only two-thirds (67%) think that senior leadership in their organisation is effective.

Key areas where leadership in local government appears to be falling short include attracting talent, motivating staff and addressing underperformance. Although 77% of leaders and managers said they had undertaken training in 2022, this training was largely unaccredited and there remains room for improvement.

Leaders and managers also face a number of key obstacles, including workforce recruitment and retention as well as red tape and financing issues. To overcome these, the report recommends that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities should design a 10-year workforce strategy for local government, accompanied by a funding boost to councils. It should also create a leadership academy to provide high quality training to leaders and managers and create a direct entry system for older career changers with existing leadership experience.