Covid-19: Local Government Futures

Helping local authorities manage their resources and take positive action in the face of the uncertainties created by Covid-19.

Social Finance has developed a scenario planning process to help local authorities meet the challenges of the next phases of the Covid-19 response.

Read the report: Scenario planning for local government (April 2020) (PDF)

The months and potentially years following Covid will involve unprecedented levels of uncertainty and continual change. As well as new service models and ways of working, councils also need new approaches to learning, planning and decision-making.

Why we are doing this: 

Scenario planning is a tried-and-tested tool to support decision-making in this environment. It was a key part of the South African post-apartheid transition, is used by the Singaporean and UK governments for strategic planning, and many multinationals are now using scenarios to underpin their Covid response strategies.

What we are doing: 

Social Finance has developed a unique scenario approach designed to help councils operate in the new normal. It engages teams to think creatively and expansively about possible futures for the council and locality over the coming 12 to 24 months. And using scenarios as a cornerstone, it supports teams to develop new learning, planning and decision-making processes that are more responsive to the unfolding situation.

We are working with councils and a national council network to put it into practice – including with People Directorates, Children’s Services Departments, and local growth groups – and have capacity to run a small number of similar processes in other places.

For more information or to explore how to apply the approach in your area please get in touch with Tom ( or Taro (

Further reading: 

The findings of an initial scenario planning exercise are summarised in an article for Apolitical, and we have produced a scenario planning methodology (PDF) for councils to use the approach themselves.

We will be publishing the outputs and findings of our work with councils here soon.

Exploring the future of investing for impact using scenarios (August 2020) (PDF)
Exploring the future for key cities using scenarios (July 2020) (PDF)
Offer for local authorities (PDF)
Scenario planning for local government (April 2020) (PDF)
Scenario planning methodology (PDF)
Four scenarios for local government to manage uncertainty (published in Apolitical)
Councils vs coronavirus: Plan beats no plan (published in The MJ)
Councils vs coronavirus: The future starts now (published in The MJ)


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