Public service reform in Northern Ireland must continue to be a top priority, urges CIPFA


The current lack of political direction in Northern Ireland means that much-needed reform of public services is not being driven forward, claims CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

CIPFA argues that current and future funding constraints, alongside the potential impact of Brexit on Northern Irish public spending power, necessitate a more innovative and collaborative approach to service design that puts the wellbeing of citizens at its heart.

To achieve this, CIPFA has set out its top -five policy recommendations and priorities to support modern and effective public service delivery. These are:
  1. A commitment to a local assembly with meaningful devolved competences that enable full delivery of an outcomes driven programme for government.
  2. A continued commitment to the outcomes approach set out in the recent 'Programme for Government'.
  3. A more innovative approach to governance and leadership to encourage collaboration.
  4. An identified, coordinated and strong voice in Brexit negotiations - with mechanisms to enable a deeper connection to local views, concerns and opportunities.
  5. A commitment to ensuring there is an honest debate with the public about the financial context for public services, so that citizens engage with any radical options that will need to be explored to put sectors, such as health and education, on a more sustainable footing.
Don Peebles, Head of Devolved Nations at CIPFA, commented:
“After years of decreasing budgets and rising service demand, public services in Northern Ireland are already facing their fair amount of challenges. These problems aren’t simply going to go away. In fact, it is likely that they will only increase in future. 
“It is imperative then that there is fundamental reform of public services in Northern Ireland. This should involve a more coordinated and joined-up approach, as if organisations work together to get this right then services could become more sustainable and effective for future generations.”

CIPFA will debate its key policy priorities and recommendations during the Northern Ireland Public Sector Chairs Forum’s (NIPSCF) Leadership and Governance Forum on 30 November. Together with the forum, it will then publish a briefing document that will outline how best to take these ideas forward.

Notes to editors

More information about the Leadership and Governance Conference

The event is run in conjunction with the NIPSCF, Chief Executives Forum and CIPFA. ‘Breaking the Mould’ is the title of this year’s annual governance and leadership conference on 30 November at Riddel Hall in Belfast. It is difficult to recall a time when we faced more profound uncertainty, political instability, unprecedented pressure on public services, a changing relationship with citizens, cyber insecurity, budget constraint and a smaller civil service. This is all against a backdrop of the UK's exit from Europe.
This conference will explore the need for innovative solutions, clear and effective leadership and governance and the emerging practical actions that can be taken to seek to ‘break the mould’ and deliver better outcomes for citizens.

Webchat is available Monday to Friday, 09:00 - 17:00 (excluding UK bank holidays).