Unprecedented cuts to balance government books, warns ACCA

The government will have to deliver an unprecedented scale of efficiency cuts
to balance its books,
chief executive Helen Brand has warned.

She spoke at a meeting at the Tories’ Birmingham conference, ahead of this
week’s departmental spending review conducted by chief Treasury secretary Danny

Brand listed streamlining and the redesign of public services, making better
use of new technologies, reducing areas of overlap, consolidating back office
functions and the rolling out of new initiatives such as ‘total place’ across
local government.

She also called for action to make sure that the claims being made about how
much is being saved are fully verifiable, and that those making the decisions
ensure they are making them using a firm base of evidence.

And she stressed public services must achieve efficiencies while at the same
time avoiding arbitrary resource allocation decisions, warning that short-term
solutions will only make the provision of public services more expensive in the
long run.

Brand said efficiency was important but is only one part of the solution, and
said value for money and public service effectiveness be given equal weight.

Much of the discussion at the fringe meeting, organised by ACCA and the Smith
Institute, focused on governance and the role governing boards have to offer
when budgets are shrinking, with general agreement that while the public
landscape is changing we should not forget the vital role good governance in
ensuring accountability, transparency and the stewardship of public funds.

Brand called for organisations to have robust and proportionate governance
arrangements in place, saying that those that do will be more successful in
dealing with the challenges ahead. Without the systems, internal controls and
audit procedures in place, organisations would be less likely to deliver on
efficiencies and effectiveness of public services, and will be less likely to
take the public with them when making these tough decisions, she said.

There was also general agreement that what is needed is to identify a way to
make the public sector “storm proof rather than prevent the storms from
happening”, due to the inevitability of economic cycles and crises and greater

Further reading:

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