CIPFA urges the next Northern Ireland Executive to reform and modernise

29-04-2016

Better long-term financial planning, supporting more innovative public services, will be essential as the Northern Ireland Assembly, formed after the May election, takes on greater fiscal powers, CIPFA (the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) claimed today.

With the 2016 elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly taking place next week, focus must be on meeting the financial challenges facing the country. CIPFA has called upon the new government to set a clear focus on outcomes for tax payers, with a more innovative, joined up approach to service delivery.

The incoming government will have an urgent need to reform health and social care services, while facing the prospect of real term cuts of 5.3% in its budget by 2019/20.

CIPFA has set out four points that must be prioritised by the next government if it is to deliver truly modern, progressive public services for the Northern Irish people. These are:

  1. development of strategic outcomes and service alignment
  2. a citizen-centred approach to public services
  3. establishment of a robust fiscal framework
  4. improved financial information to support long-term planning

Don Peebles, Head of Devolved Government, CIPFA, said:

“The next Northern Ireland Executive faces a raft of fiscal challenges and an urgent need to develop modern, fit for purpose public services. With newly devolved powers, the next Executive will have a chance to revolutionise service delivery. Our contribution to this debate not only helps improve understanding of the complexities of public finance, but sets out our vision as to how these challenges can be met”.

In its four-point vision for the new Northern Ireland Government, CIPFA urges the following:

  1. Development of strategic outcomes and service alignment
    The next Assembly will be one of continued fiscal constraint. Achievable, measurable outcomes need to be set. This will help public bodies further collaborate on delivering improved outcomes, reduce duplications and overlaps, and help address any service gap.
  2. A citizen-centred approach to public services
    To achieve long-term fiscal sustainability, there needs to be a rebalancing of the relationship between the people of Northern Ireland and the devolved government. This should include transparency on how available resources are used to provide public services.
  3. Establishment of a robust fiscal framework
    A fiscal council, as proposed in the 2015 Fresh Start Agreement, should have its remit and powers established in the form of a robust fiscal framework. Further, the council should have the ability and capacity to develop its own long-term forecasts independent of the Executive.
  4. Improved financial information to support long-term planning
    Increased fiscal powers for the Executive strengthen the case for improved medium to longer-term financial planning to ensure sustainability of services and intergenerational equity. The incoming Executive should pursue the development of devolved forecast balance sheets and related fiscal measures for debt and treasury management to control borrowing, measure affordability and the sustainability of the assembly’s finances. We believe that the increased fiscal powers need to be supported by transparency on how these powers are being used.

ENDS

For media enquiries contact the CIPFA press office on 020 7543 5830/07833 091 303  or contact E: david.stone@cipfa.org.

For more details see Our Call to the New Northern Ireland Executive (CIPFA Briefing, 2016). 

About CIPFA

CIPFA is one of the leading professional accountancy bodies in the UK and the only one which specialises in the public services. It is responsible for the education and training of professional accountants and for their regulation through the setting and monitoring of professional standards.

Uniquely among the professional accountancy bodies in the UK, CIPFA has responsibility for setting accounting standards for a significant part of the economy, namely local government. CIPFA’s members work (often at the most senior level) in the public service bodies, in the national audit agencies and major accountancy firms. They are respected throughout for their high technical and ethical standards and professional integrity. CIPFA also provides a range of high quality advisory, information and training and consultancy services to public service organisations. As such, CIPFA is the leading independent commentator on managing and accounting for public money.