I had a conversation today with a colleague about the likely impact of Brexit on local government. Suffice to say I don’t have the answers, and nor does he. By way of reassurance there is a fair bit of “what if” thinking going on around the sector at the moment, the problem is we don’t have much material to work with.
Looking back over the years since the War there are few events or sequences of events if any that rival those of the last week. Suez? The industrial strife of the 60s, 70s and 80s? The crash of 2007/8? Yes, governments fell on occasion, but it wasn’t like this.
Certainly joining the Common Market as it then was did not cause the upheaval or uncertainty that we have seen in the last two weeks and certainly not the political uncertainties layered on top of the unanswered economic questions. And that’s before we get to the question of Scotland’s place and future in all this.
Remember, the much mentioned Article 50 has yet to be triggered and as yet we do not even know the name of the Prime Minister that will do that. The TV political pundits have been telling us this is unique, and they are right.
Back to us. What does it mean for the sector? Well, everyone seems to be of the view that UK plc will take an economic hit in either the short, medium or long term. Take your pick. And that hit will inevitably impact on the financial and economic plans of government at one level or another. The value of the pound, at a 30 year low against the US dollar will impact on our purchasing power and particularly the prices of commodities traded on a global basis, not least oil and energy. Beyond that it’s all speculation.
What exactly will it mean for us is impossible to say, as is how long it will last. We can say this is a big issue for local government and one we need to watch carefully, and think about, and respond to through the development of our plans and strategies as needed when the time comes. We’re working on it….