Local government chief finance officers losing confidence in ability to deliver services


Local authority CFOs are less confident in their future financial positions than they were in 2018/19 reveals new research from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) today.

Seventy per cent of respondents to CIPFA’s CFO Confidence Survey reported they were either slightly less or much less confident in their financial position for 2020/21 than they were in 2018/19.

Sixty eight per cent said they were either slightly less or much less confident in their ability to deliver services for the same time period. 

The majority of respondents (62%) reported equal confidence in their financial position for 2019/20 as they had in 2018/19.

The survey also showed that the area of greatest pressure for top tier authorities remains children’s social care, with the number of authorities rating it the most high pressure area rising by six percentage points since the last survey in 2017. 

Adults’ social care was the area of second highest pressure. The greatest pressures for district authorities were housing, cultural services, and environmental services. 

CIPFA CEO Rob Whiteman said:

“Local government is facing greater demand pressures than ever before, with particular pressures in adults’ and children’s social care and housing. Local authorities also lack certainty about their future financial positions, so it’s unsurprising to see confidence on the decline. 

“We have repeatedly pointed out that local government is in need of a sustainable funding solution, but meeting this demand requires more than pennies and pounds. The sector as a whole must come together to address the challenges of effective service delivery. 

“CIPFA wants to spend the next 12 months exploring these issues in more depth. The conversation kicks off today with the publication of Talking about tomorrow: shaping successful local services, which we hope will stimulate discussion.”

CIPFA is inviting councillors, officers and citizens to use this process to address the challenges of effective service delivery, explore what can be done to restore trust in local systems and ask how techniques to manage resources can really add value. 

The conversation and its kick-off publication will launch at CIPFA’s breakfast debate at the LGA Conference on 3 July in Bournemouth. 


Notes to editors:

• The survey received 73 responses to the question: Taking into account the current economic conditions and the financial settlement for 2019/20, how confident are you in your organisation’s financial position (in 2019/20 and 2020/21)?

• The survey received 117 responses to the question: Which three service areas are currently under the greatest budget pressures?

• Overall, CIPFA received responses from 56 top tier authorities, 47 English districts, 12 Scottish authorities, and 4 Welsh authorities.

For further information please contact the CIPFA press office on T: 020 7543 5737 or E: Ashleigh.moore@cipfa.org 

About CIPFA 

CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. CIPFA shows the way in public finance globally, standing up for sound public financial management and good governance around the world as the leading commentator on managing and accounting for public money.

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