Call for "constant revolution" as public sector comms cuts continue

Three-quarters of all public sector comms teams have been hit with budget cuts in the past year, research has found, with prospects for the future remaining tough.

Salami-sliced: Public sector teams have already faced deep cuts
Salami-sliced: Public sector teams have already faced deep cuts

The poll by LGcommunications of senior managers in the sector revealed that 75 per cent of those quizzed had already cut their budgets and 68 per cent expected to do so during the next year. 

It suggested teams are running out of options when it comes to finding new savings. Just 27 per cent thought they could increase their team’s workload for the coming year, compared with 57 per cent who had done so over the past 12 months. 

Though less severe, the same applied when it came to ‘driving workflow efficiencies’, with 35 per cent believing this could be improved – down from 43 per cent.

Neil Wholey, chairman of LGcommunications' insight arm, said the research indicated a need for teams to adapt to focusing on "constant improvement" in finding efficiencies. 

This included building on successful ideas, such as commercial partnerships or new ways of working, rather than presuming the hard work had been done, he added.

"Many things have been tried when it comes to making savings, but they need to maximise what has already been successful and persist with other ways of improving.

"It is a case of being in constant revolution now because what we’re facing is a new kind of normality."

Though teams struggle to cope with current workloads, there are signs that the severe job cuts that have hit the sector in recent years show signs of slowing.

Three in five managers reported cutting staff in the past 12 months, but this has nearly halved to 33 per cent for the coming year. 

And while only 45 per cent agreed their team had sufficient time to fulfil its work, 89 per cent said the team was effective in meeting core objectives.

The survey took place in May and included responses from 61 team leaders; 53 from local authorities, four from fire and rescue services, one NHS body and one arm’s-length management organisation.  

It was unveiled at LGcommunications' Public Sector Communications Academy last week.

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