Day in the life: Frank Wilson, Director of Corporate Resources, London Councils


Q and A with Frank Smith, Director of Corporate Resources, London Councils

How did you first get into working in/around the local government?

I’d already decided upon a public sector career and joined the civil service, in my local benefits office. The advent of Housing Benefit in 1982 made the transition to my local council an easy one, where I receive very generous support to complete my AAT/CIPFA studies and become fully qualified.

What has been your proudest professional moment?

Obviously completing my professional qualification, immediately after which I was responsible for the financial integration of the education service into the borough’s portfolio following the abolition of the ILEA. I also drafted the borough’s initial local management of schools (LMS) scheme, which changed the way individual schools were funded. I consider both of these achievements to be significant milestones in the development of an essential public service to stakeholders. I am also very proud to have served all Londoners across a range of functions for the past 17 years.

From your point of view, what are the three biggest challenges facing local government today?

Local government plays an invaluable role in British society and needs to be cherished. However, it needs to regain lost public confidence, which seems to have eroded significantly since 2008. It needs to address the lack of quality professional staff and needs to convince government that is best placed to deliver high quality local services under fully devolved powers and greater financial responsibility.

Thinking historically, what government policy do you think has had most impact?

I think that the introduction of compulsory competitive tendering (although I was not necessarily a fan of the compulsory side of things!) in the early 80s drastically changed the landscape under which local government provided and procured services for its stakeholders. There have been obvious successes, but some horrendous failures along the line.

If you could make one significant change to the way local government is current run, what would it be?

Full devolution and accountability, including financial, for all public services within responsible geographical boundaries.