Director of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives
Government must rethink its approach to poor governance and behaviour in councils
Solace supports all of the Committee on Standards in Public Life report's recommendations on standards in local government, but without Government action on sanctions this will never gain the traction required, says Graeme McDonald.
Helping highly vulnerable families to recover, rebuild their lives here, and thrive
Implementing and delivering the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme will require more than just goodwill, says Graeme McDonald.
Must change always be so lacking in urgency?
Graeme McDonald says a devolution deal 'represents the very start of change, not an outcome in itself, and what is on offer in the White Paper is 'frankly pretty small beer in terms of rebalancing power'.
Trust in democracy is under threat - and local government is not immune
Solace will continue to push the Government to respond to the Committee for Standards in Public Life reports, says Graeme McDonald.
We will need the very best people if we are to ‘level up’ places
It makes little sense to have more than 500 local councils all fighting each other in the battle for talent, according to Graeme McDonald. He believes councils need a Local Leadership Academy, in line with similar bodies across the public sector.
Tackling the social care workforce crisis
When it comes to social care Solace believes we need a more strategic and sustainably funded approach to talent development specifically, and workforce, more generally, says Graeme McDonald.
What we will need from the leaders of the future?
There are increasing challenges in filling senior positions across the public sector including local government, says Graeme McDonald. We must make the environment safe for open communication about challenges, concerns and opportunities, he adds.
We must stop the Treasury tail wagging the Government dog
Graeme McDonald senses 'much of Whitehall has a greater understanding of our challenges than for many years, but is handcuffed by the inflexible, rigid approach imposed by a shortsighted Exchequer'.
Let's continue to open national politicians’ and civil servants’ eyes to the potential of local government
Writing in advance of the Queen's Speech, Graeme McDonald wondered if it would set up a new relationship between Whitehall and councils. or leave local government fighting for relevance within a Westminster-imposed straightjacket.
The importance of data and networks in advancing racial equality
Over the last six months Graeme McDonald has been a commissioner on Tower Hamlets’ Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Inequalities Commission. What stuck out for him in the recommendations from the final report?
Tapping into public sector talent
As a growing number of public sector leaders step down, Graeme McDonald urges local government to seize this opportunity to grasp more diverse talent for the future
Calling a halt to sinking standards
It is two years since the Committee for Standards in Public Life (CSPL) published its report, Local Government Ethical Standards. But the Government ‘has yet to respond or seemingly start work on implementing recommendations’, says Graeme McDonald.
Let's begin to forge a new model of the state
Joanne Roney becomes the new president of Solace from 1 January. Graeme McDonald says that at the centre of the agenda 'will be the need to tackle inequality – between people or places, in funding, or in the distribution of power'.
Local government will continue to move mountains
Those working in the sector will be pushing themselves to breaking point to get through a difficult winter, says Graeme McDonald. 'During this time, we must also look after ourselves and our colleagues', he adds.
Now is the time to reflect, reset and reimagine the future of local government
It's all too easy to paint a bleak picture where local government professionals become the administrators of decline, says Graeme McDonald. But we should remain optimistic, as 'COVID has seen councils across the UK repeatedly step up to deliver'.
Capping the pace of change
While one part of central government is local for reorganisation and modernisation, the other cuts exit payments and blocks a major way to drive the pace of change, says Graeme McDonald.
Examining the forces that push problems downstream
The pandemic has created opportunities for learning, renewal, and new, better responses, says Graeme McDonald. The pro-early intervention arguments appear to many mere common sense, so why is investing early so difficult, he asks.
Difficult questions lie ahead for Government and the sector
Graeme McDonald says we have some important decisions to make and a challenging new future to plan for. Will Westminster fulfil its promises and cover the full cost of the crisis for local councils?
Our role will be refocused around resilience
Beyond the initial emergency response, we must ensure communities can emerge and re-establish themselves strengthened and renewed, says Graeme McDonald.
Infrastructure means more than counting cranes
Local government and wider public services have a challenge, says Graeme McDonald. How do we ensure investment in immediate preventative activities is able to compete for finite resources with investment in tangible 'bricks and mortar' projects?