The next six months will be the defining period for the project to rebalance the UK public finances according to a new report by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) and Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE).
After all of the anticipation, spending cuts will become real for citizens, families and communities over the next few months as public bodies set their budgets following the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) announcement, the report says. Their reactions and responses will create new pressures and tensions in the political parties and potentially impact on policy making going forward.
Risks will be tested in real time. A significant area of uncertainty will be the capacity of organisations to implement and manage urgent changes to service arrangements and working methods whilst at the same time cutting funding. Multiple impacts – a variety of different cuts impacting on the same citizen, family and community – are also a major risk area on which public bodies, individually and collectively, are likely to be unsighted, the report argues.
The report, Rebalancing the Public Finances: the end of the beginning, predicts the likely level of service cuts following not only the CSR announcement, but also the finalisation of detailed budgets by Government Departments and individual public bodies across the country. It also reviews the extent to which three strategic options indentified in an earlier report, After the Downturn, published in December 2009, are reflected in government policy.
Steve Freer, CIPFA Chief Executive said:
‘This is the point at which the project to rebalance the public finances will become real for every citizen and family in the UK. Multiple impacts – lots of different cuts affecting the same individual or household – pose a real risk of perceived unfairness. It’s critically important that local public bodies work closely together to scan for and try to detect these difficulties as early as possible’.
Mike Bennett, Assistant Director-General of SOLACE said:
‘In the next six months, as we begin to see the real impact of last year’s economic downturn on local services, the role of public service leaders serving and supporting their communities will become even more challenging and more important’.
Contact: Guy Roberts/ Lindsay Machin / Chloe Forbes
CIPFA Press Office
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1. CIPFA spokespeople, including Steve Freer, are available for interview on the Comprehensive Spending Review.
2. In December 2009, CIPFA and SOLACE published a joint report, After the Downturn, which explored three strategic options for the Government and public services in achieving the major and sustained spending cuts that would be necessary to rebalance the public finances. This further report, Rebalancing the Public Finances – The End of the Beginning, assesses how those options have been explored in the Coalition Government’s first months. To download the report, please click here.
3. About CIPFA
CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. Our 14,000 members work throughout the public services, in national audit agencies, in major accountancy firms, and in other bodies where public money needs to be effectively and efficiently managed. As the world’s only professional accountancy body to specialise in public services, CIPFA’s portfolio of qualifications are the foundation for a career in public finance. They include the benchmark professional qualification for public sector accountants as well as a postgraduate diploma for people already working in leadership positions. They are taught by our in-house CIPFA Education and Training Centre as well as other places of learning around the world. We also champion high performance in public services, translating our experience and insight into clear advice and practical services. They include information and guidance, courses and conferences, property and asset management solutions, consultancy and interim people for a range of public sector clients. Globally, CIPFA shows the way in public finance by standing up for sound public financial management and good governance. We work with donors, partner governments, accountancy bodies and the public sector around the world to advance public finance and support better public services.
4. About SOLACE
The Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE) is the UK professional body for top managers. SOLACE represents 1,700 of the most senior executives in UK local government and the wider public service, including 95% of council chiefs. SOLACE gives them influence, gives them an unrivalled network and is a source of support when they need it most.