Abdool Kara is executive leader for local services at the National Audit Office and former chief execuitve of Swale BC
Go with your gut on EDI
If we are going to make progress on equality, diversity and inclusion local government needs to cut the red tape and just do it, says Abdool Kara
The NAO will be paying close attention to the progress of levelling up
Abdool Kara says it is straightforward to direct Government capital and infrastructure cash towards the places the market is not investing in, albeit how such places are prioritised can be contested. It is a harder task for revenue spending.
Ukraine crisis is 'forging stronger bonds'
The crisis in Ukraine is seeing countries around the world unite in support of its people, writes Abdool Kara. We can and must do everything possible to support staff who are affected by the conflict.
A late-notice, short-term and partial settlement poses problems
There may be a clue about why the sector only has a one-year settlement in the lack of announcements around the fair funding review, the overdue business rates reset, and the delayed levelling up White Paper, says Abdool Kara.
Finding evidence to support the 'bleedin' obvious'
Abdool Kara asks why such a small proportion of health money is devoted to preventative activities. 'It can only be because the Department of Health or HM Treasury are not convinced by the evidence.'
Data shows the difference
Despite all the legislation and guidance, there is still endless variation in local government, says Abdool Kara. Data helps compare the difference.
The future is already here
Success can only come from choosing our battles - and our timing - well, and working for change collaboratively across the sector, says Abdool Kara.
The White Paper recognises coterminosity makes a strategic difference
Abdool Kara asks if the lessons of Lansley will be learned, 'especially the making-redundant-then-rehiring of health professionals strategy that cost the public purse dearly in 2011?'
Councils' role is vital to a fulsome recovery
Some loved ones will not be around to experience the renaissance when it comes. But for those who are, 'the critical role of local authorities needs to be recognised and underpinned' if the recovery is to be swift, says Abdool Kara.
The importance of a wise intermediate layer
Little has been written during the pandemic about the missing role of intermediate layers of governance such as regional development agencies, says Abdool Kara. They might have prevented some of the response cul-de-sacs, he adds.
Before reorganisation we need a clear view of the sector's core purpose
How local government 'can sensibly be reorganised without a clear view of its core purpose (will adult social care services be in or out?) or funding mechanisms' is baffling Abdool Kara.
Let's think carefully about the best scale for delivering public services
We have seen a lack of sophisticated thinking by Government about the level at which COVID-19 initiatives were delivered, says Abdool Kara - and it looks like this may be a key theme in the NAO's ongoing coronavirus-related work programme.
The COVID review is yet to come
The NAO is being careful not to compromise the emergency response to COVID-19, but there will be a review to come, says Abdool Kara
The sector has continued to benefit from Best Value
Before COVID-19, Brexit, austerity and the recession came Best Value inspection - and the more objective chiefs now speak fondly of those days, and the net benefit of the regime, says Abdool Kara.
Sizing up the efficiency problem
If delivering efficiency is a driver for local government there are reasons to believe there may be a ‘right size’ for authorities, but as Abdool Kara reveals, history suggests other factors are at play.
We need a sector-wide perspective on PWLB rate increase
The sector might ask itself if a 'small' rate increase in the cost of loans from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) back to 2018 levels was the worst thing that could have happened,says Abdool Kara.
Extracting more value from local audit
Abdool Kara says the sharper focus on value for money and the expectation of clearer, more timely reporting is perhaps the most noticeable difference between the NAO's new Code of Audit Practice now out for consultation and the current code.
Reducing the risks from transition
The May local elections returned significant numbers of new councillors including new single issue groups. Abdool Kara examines the role of chief executives in actively managing the transition.
Cliffs, knives and U2
Abdool Kara is not sure that falling over or off cliffs is the right metaphor for what we could see in local government if the current funding trajectory continues.
NHS sustainability 'very difficult' without a long-term social care settlement
A series of significant National Audit Office reports on local services have emerged so far this year - and it is the most recent one on NHS financial sustainability that might have the greatest impact on local government, says Abdool Kara