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Demand management in local government: How to manage demand for public services

Public Finance & Deloitte supplement


The current cost-reduction agenda in local government has demonstrated the need for new thinking. Process and organisational efficiency alone will not allow town halls to meet their budget targets.

A sustainable reduction in demand for public services is clearly one of the key ways of achieving significant and long-term savings. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that ‘demand management’ has become a ‘buzz word’ across the public sector.

However, the concept has created a mixed response. Some commentators see it as an old idea; others as nothing less than a societal shift in the relationship between the state and the individual. A third group believes it is simply a euphemism for rationing.

In reality, there is some truth in all of these statements. To flesh out what demand management really means and to see how it works in practice, Deloitte and Public Finance have put together this special supplement.

Key findings

We believe there are three strategies to manage and/or stabilise the demand for local authority services. First, councils can seek to change citizen expectations of what the state should provide. Secondly, they can divert demand to other providers such as the third sector. Thirdly, councils can intervene early to improve outcomes and thereby reduce long-term reliance on the state.

In this publication, we examine how demand management can operate in social care, education, waste management and highways maintenance.

Chief executives and finance directors tell us where it has worked and where there are limitations.


Demand Management: How to manage demand for public services (PDF)


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