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Title: How do senior politicians and officers design and implement spending cuts to services? : a comparative study of two English Shire authorities (2010-11 to 2015-16)
Author: Kehoe, Thomas Edward Fitzgerald
ISNI:       0000 0004 7652 4177
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2018
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Between 2010 and 2020, central government funding to English and Welsh local authorities declined by up to 56 per cent. County councils were forced to cut spending through efficiency savings or by cutting or reducing services. This research compares how senior politicians and officers in two local authorities balanced different spending priorities in the face of funding shortfalls. Drawing on 55 in-depth qualitative interviews and analysis of spending cutback decisions over a five-year period, my research shows how local government reorganisation (LGR) impacted on the design and implementation of spending cuts. In my first case study, identified as ‘Northshire’, LGR facilitated the adoption of new corporate management practices, while in ‘Southshire’ these were firmly embedded before austerity. LGR provided a valuable organisational and political framework for embedding new working practices but did not change Northshire’s preference for maintaining in-house service provision, unlike in Southshire where divesting all but a few core services was proposed. Evidently, the scale and pace at which fundamental change to existing service delivery models was implemented was affected by recent or long-standing organisational practices and the willingness of senior politicians and officers to embrace a reform agenda. In Southshire, the pace of reform negatively impacted on the capacity of staff to implement organisational change, undermining the political and organisational legitimacy of the spending cutback process. My research suggests these failings were compounded by a lack of consultation with critical internal and external stakeholders. This contrasted with Northshire, where a more consultative, incremental, top-down project management approach to reform was adopted. My findings suggest that by staggering the pace at which fundamental change to services were introduced, greater opportunities for service user and stakeholder consultation were provided, helping to ease some of the political and organisational difficulties associated with designing and implementing tough spending cutback choices.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.B.A.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available