Scottish public services must focus on achieving outcomes


The Scottish Government must ensure the system for allocating public money to public services focuses on achieving results and takes into account the economic and social characteristics of the different areas of Scotland.  This is the call made by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) and the CIPFA Scottish Directors of Finance Section in their joint submission to the Commission on Future Delivery of Public Services.

The historic funding formulae used by public services are largely input based.  CIPFA and Scottish Directors of Finance Section share the view of the 2010 Independent Budget Review Panel, that Scottish public services funding should be directed towards achieving outcomes, rather than focusing on how public services operate. They argue an independent review of the current system of resource allocation is needed to resolve this disconnect.

CIPFA Scotland Policy & Technical Manager, Don Peebles said:

‘The most important question for public services is what they achieve for the public who use them.  For this reason CIPFA is calling for an independent review of the current system of resource allocation.’

Chair of the Directors of Finance Section, Sandra Black said:

‘If public sector reform is to lead to better outcomes across the Scottish public sector, we need a more holistic means of funding public services.  This is essential given the tight fiscal climate we find ourselves in’.


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Notes to Editors:

1. CIPFA’s full recommendations to the Commission on Future delivery of Public Services are as follows:

  • that an independent review of the current system of resource allocation, be undertaken, to ensure as far as possible that national resources are directed towards the achievement of public service outcomes and have proper regard to the geographic, economic and social characteristics of different localities, which drive demand for public services and impact on the delivery of outcomes;
  • that as part of a revised system of public sector funding, a review of the proportion of resources which can be raised locally, to promote accountability for local policy decisions, and funding mechanisms which financially incentivise local public bodies to grow the local economy, attract investment and deliver positive outcomes for the local area;
  • that long term financial planning by Scotland’s’ public services should be supported by greater visibility of future years’ grant funding as a minimum linked to the period of the Comprehensive Spending Review;
  • that the Commission, in their consideration of financial sustainability, take account of the recent findings of the joint work of the SFRG  regarding the future cost of current service models, the future affordability of the current policy frameworks, and the need to invest more now in prevention and early intervention;
  • that the work of the current pilots on outcomes based budgeting should be supported and the results reviewed and taken forward as the basis of a model for the public sector;
    that the Commission take account of the early findings of the piloting of the ‘Total Place’ initiative and consider its potential contribution to any future reform programme in Scotland; and
    that the reform of external audit and inspection is accelerated in line with the original recommendations of Professor Crerar, principally the development of a single external scrutiny body for all public services, focussed on reviewing progress towards the delivery of outcomes in local areas.

2. 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. This includes the development of local professional qualifications in African countries like Lesotho and Nigeria and in Europe in post conflict states in the Balkans.