The public sector is often the forgotten man of the finance function world,
and those keeping things ticking over at the coalface of local councils rarely
get as much credit as their more glamorous corporate counterparts.
Dawn Calvert, winner of the Accountant of the Year award, has been described
as someone firmly committed to the public sector.
A closer look at her role at Ealing Council explains why Dawn is such a
worthy winner. Keeping big budgets are a feature of local council life and as
head of children’s finance, she has overseen £52m of prudent investment, which
has been highly challenging.
Her team provides financial support to Children’s Services, the largest
directorate within Ealing Council and supporting a revenue of £265m and a
capital budget of £31m.
Dawn operates as a key cog in the delivery of hugely complex single agency
and multi- agency partnerships so that the priority of making a real difference
to the lives of the local community is not just seen as a ticked-box area.
She has succeeded in making the intricacies of the balance sheet
understandable to the people outside the finance function. ‘She manages to
translate accountancy gobbledegook into something that front line social care
staff can understand and operate effectively within,’ said one of Ealing
She has also transformed a limited hierarchical structure into a high
performing team, aligned to supporting the needs of an evolving Children’s
Services and, in the words of her colleagues, has ‘worked tirelessly to
The CIPFA-qualified accountant recently had to deal with a tricky integration
involving the Schools Service as part of the new Children’s Act 2004, including
getting to grips with whole new areas relating to provision of budgets. The
council also had a projected budget gap of almost £3m a couple of years ago and
Calvert was instrumental in efforts to re-prioritise, manage down and come in on
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