The We Society S5 Ep5: Protecting local councils with Andy Pike

Professor Andy Pike has placed local authorities under his microscope for us, trying to figure out how to solve the crisis, as Sir Henry Daysh Chair of Regional Development Studies at Newcastle University. He’s even written a book about the very topic called “Financialisation and Local Statecraft”.

When it was revealed in 2022 that Thurrock council in Essex faced a half-a-billion-pound black hole in its finances, it was assumed it was something that other local authorities couldn’t repeat.

But since then, five other local authorities, including Nottingham, Birmingham, and Croydon, have fallen like dominoes, declaring bankruptcies and one in five local authorities in England is now projected to be insolvent by next year. Something is clearly going very wrong.

And it’s not just bin collections at stake but adult and child social care, schooling, libraries—the list goes on. Speak to anyone working in frontline council services, and they will tell you that any further cuts will decimate how we look after society’s most vulnerable.

Season 5 of the We Society Podcast from the Academy of Social Sciences tackles the big questions through a social science lens. Throughout this series, you’ll be hearing some of the best ideas to shape the way we live.

Hosted by journalist and Academy President Will Hutton, we interview some of Britain’s top social scientists and public figures from across the globe to explore their evidence-led solutions to society’s most pressing problems.

Listen to the podcast here