Ben Page is chief executive of Ipsos MORI
‘Cakeism’ still seems the solution de jour
Strategic hard choices are ones that most Conservatives – but also many voters at large – are happy to try and ignore, says Ben Page.
Targeting future opportunities
LGA conference plenary speaker Ben Page looks at the challenges and opportunities for councils in the post-pandemic 2020s, including more diverse communities and the need for massive structural change in planning.
The results reinforce the realignment of Britain's electoral geography
Ben Page says 'nationally the Conservatives are hurting, but you wouldn’t bet against them winning again, despite "levelling up" being the policy area voters think they are worst at'.
The Government should push on fast with reorganisation
Anyone looking at bold plans for the future should bite the bullet on reorganisation and get it done fast, advises global chief executive of Ipsos Ben Page.
It looks likely that councils will continue to live on the thin gruel
Councils are expected to be allowed to increase bills by 2.8% per year, says Ben Page. 'The bad news is that all this means the now familiar tale of cuts to council services looks likely again unless more cash is forthcoming'
Beautiful, popular, healthy and sustainable new places are what we all want
The public does not feel politicians are doing enough to tackle the housing crisis, says Ben Page. He looks at what councils will have to do to win through on their plans.
Voters everywhere tend to feel the centre spends less on their area than elsewhere
One of the underlying challenges of levelling up is just how much economic heavy lifting will ultimately be needed, says Ben Page. 'All this highlights local government’s constant challenge in explaining to residents where it is spending money.'
The NHS is sacrosanct – local government not so much
Ben Page says the public is becoming more positive about the future and about both the NHS and Government’s ability to deal with whatever comes next. 'And local government has generally performed strongly in dealing with massive dislocation'.
The move to home working poses huge problems
The trend to more working from home looks set to continue post COVID, says Ben Page. 'But it poses huge problems for anyone invested in commercial property or city centres – which includes many local authorities.'
Local government does a brilliant job in elections
Ben Page 'cannot ever recall a UK election 'like the one Americans are currently fighting over'. He says it is 'sometimes worth remembering just how efficient and effective British local government is'.
Unitary 'mayhem' has failed to arrive thus far
The public may care often care a lot about key local services but aren't so interested in the structure of local government, says Ben Page. He expects councils' endless ability to just 'get on with it' on instructions from Whitehall will continue.
Councils have the local support to do what they must
As local government works hard to revive local economic activity and resume normality, there is strong support from its communities for it to do whatever it takes, according to Ben Page.
Who are the losers?
At least in terms of public opinion, local government itself has come out of the pandemic crisis better than the civil service, says Ben Page – with 55% saying local authorities did a good job compared to 47% for the civil service.
After COVID-19 will local government finally get the resources it needs?
Local government will seem to cope with whatever gets thrown at it - both its great strength, and its great weakness, says Ben Page.
As ever, councils do better than Whitehall when it comes to expectations of fair treatment
Only a third of the British expect central Government to treat them fairly, while a half expect their local council to do so, according to the latest Ipsos MORI global study looking at perceptions of public services, says Ben Page.
What are local government's prospects now?
Ben Page looks ahead at the prospects for local government.There is hope on social care, with a promise of cross-party talks within 100 days of the election. But on a host of issues, is benign neglect the best local government can hope for?
Everyday Britain's silent crisis in care
Ben Page says that while Britain is bothering about Brexit and more this summer, hardly anyone is paying attention to the 'much less talked about' crisis in children's services that's 'becoming acute'.
We need a more nuanced conversation around trust
Ben Page says that while trust in central Government has fallen in both Britain and the US since the 1960s, the problem is not new, or acute. It is chronic - and was there 'as money poured in under Blair' and is 'still there as money pours out'.
There's some cheer here for town hall bosses
Ipsos MORI's latest survey might bring cheer to some readers fed up with TaxPayers' Alliance press releases about town hall bosses on allegedly vast salaries, says Ben Page
It’s time local government woke up to older age
Ben Page explains that old age needn't follow a narrative of decline - as long as all of us, including the local government sector, start preparing now.