LGcommunications reports that councils are braced for cutbacks

Local authorities are preparing themselves for stringent comms cuts, with some now actively seeking advice on where the axe should fall.

Cuts: five comms chiefs have been advised
Cuts: five comms chiefs have been advised

In the week up to and including election day, five comms heads contacted public sector PR association LGcommunications for advice.

Four sought advice on budget cuts, while another requested advice on whether his authority should close its council magazine.

Since a hung parliament was announced last Friday, LGcommunications has been briefing local authority PR teams that the uncertainty resulting from the election represents a time of 'challenge and danger' for councils.

LGcommunications secretary Alex Aiken said: 'The fluid picture across the country means that council comms actions will be intensely scrutinised, while the continuing pressure on budgets means that PR will be an easy target.'

'It may be that councils were waiting until the outcome of the elections to implement cuts and these may be accelerated,' added Aiken, who is also director of comms and strategy at Westminster City Council.

He warned the cuts would mainly be dealt with through redundancies.

Aiken predicts the status of public sector PR after the general election of 2014-15, painting a picture of comms departments poorer and more open to attacks from campaigning groups in this week's PRWeek column.

HOW I SEE IT - DAVID HOLDSTOCK, Head of comms, London Borough of Hillingdon; chair, LGcommunications

All councils will have been working on efficiency savings, and comms will be top of that list. There is a really strong message to comms in the public sector: now is the time to really prove your value to organisations.

I believe that for any politician from any party working locally, it is vital for them to communicate with their residents. If council publications are proven to be effective, it seems sensible that they should continue. The best council comms teams have already been working to deliver more effective comms. For those that have not been doing that, it must now be their focus of attention.

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