Magazine article Public Finance

Letters

Magazine article Public Finance

Letters

Article excerpt

You can e-mail your letters to letterstoeditor@publicfinance.co.uk or fax them to: 020 7543 5793. Please include your name and address and a daytime phone number. The editor reserves the right to edit letters

Top team needs accountant's skill

Contrary to what Philip Sellers says on the issue of CFOs being downgraded, the Audit Commission does get it (Letters, September 16-22).

Our view is that although responsibility for financial management is a collective one, one member of the top team should have personal responsibility and accountability for leading and advising colleagues on financial issues. This person should normally be a professionally qualified accountant.

JAMES STRACHAN

Chair, Audit Commission

Disaster ahead if CFOs are ditched

Philip Sellers is spot on with his forthright views on the position of chief financial officers in modernised local government. I, too, was amazed at the findings in the CIPFA survey ('Never fear, the S151s are here', September 9-15) as many of my 'treasurer' colleagues are not on their authorities' management team and have problems as a result.

Question 9 about having free and unfettered access to members shows the problem, as while this is necessary, it should be achievable within a management team, rather than outside it. Not doing this could lead to conflict with the management team if opinions or advice differ.

The trend is worrying and will get worse unless CIPFA, the Audit Commission, etc, are more proactive in promoting the important role of the CFO. One day there will be a real financial crisis in a local authority without a CFO on its management team and questions will be asked how this could happen. What will the chief executive or lead member say, and will they take responsibility?

PETER SHORT

Director of corporate services, Chiltern District Council

PFI should RIP

Others, like me, who are proud of their IMTA qualification, even if in our dotage, must have been pleased to read two of the items in Public Finance on September 16.

First, to read a distinguished member, Philip Sellers, complaining about the lack of status and independence of modern CFOs (what happened to 'treasurer'?) and the failure of our institute to defend them. I remember studying 'fiduciary relationship', a subject more important than 'creative accounting' and 'commercial awareness'.

Secondly, those of us who criticised the Private Finance Initiative are now, slowly, point by point, being justified. The last defence of 'keeping accounts out of the public sector' has now been breached. When will those who favour the PFI admit that a costly gimmick has come to the end of its useful life? …

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