This year’s Accountant of the Year Award goes to Simon George, an assistant
director of finance at Ealing Council. At 34, this CIMA and ACT qualified
accountant has made his presence felt in a variety of roles at Mobil Oil, where
he did his accountancy training, the BBC and now Ealing Council.
At Ealing, George is responsible for financial management and control for
adults’ social care, children’s social care, the education service and housing
and environmental health.
He oversees 100 staff and a £500m budget, and in a little more than a year
since his arrival at the council, he has turned a legacy of overspends £2.6m
in 2003/04 and £1.8m in 2004/05 into a service managed within budget for the
first time in years.
In fact, George has played an important role in a complete turnaround in the
council’s fortunes and culture. Putting an emphasis on open communication, he
restructured the finance team so that it better reflected the council’s
He has also encouraged members of the finance team to attend all operational
meetings, helping to build bridges with other departments and establish the
profile of the finance team across the council.
By making sure that the council’s executive directors and officers understand
the financial implications of their decisions, George and his team have helped
enforce financial rigour at a council that was struggling financially.
Today’s financial culture at the council is very different. Overspending is
no longer an option and the team works to explore ways of reducing costs and
increasing income so that the council’s budget is balanced.
Over the past year, George’s achievements include: retendering the contract
for day centre transport, resulting in savings of £400,000 on a £1.5m deal and
£1.2m in capital costs; leading the budget process for his £500m division, which
represents two-thirds of the council’s expenditure; and successfully balancing
the budget for his sector, resulting in savings of more than £5m.
George has also worked to ensure the council implements the requirements of
the new Children’s Act, working to identify the financial implications of a
major internal restructuring. This has involved undertaking a fundamental review
of key social care and education budgets.
The judges paid tribute to George’s dedication and determination: ‘Simon is
driven and clearly places professionalism high on his agenda. He delivered
significant savings and led his team through a crucial restructuring to rave
reviews from more senior members of staff.’
George takes a keen interest in disability issues. At Ealing Council he is a
member of the corporate qualities working group. And at the BBC he acted as a
champion of the disability placement scheme, where individuals with disabilities
were offered work experience at the BBC and often went on to take up permanent
jobs at the corporation.
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