Magazine article Public Finance

2006: Forward Planning

Magazine article Public Finance

2006: Forward Planning

Article excerpt

Sir Sandy BruceLockhart


Local Government Association

As a New Year resolution for ourselves as well as for government, we'd like to see the Lyons review recommendations-on both the financing and role of local authorities - accepted by government and actioned within the year. If we achieve that, we will have had a positive year.

We'd also like to make progress on drastically reducing the central controls, targets, plans, performance indicators and inspections that Gershon has said cost the public sector some £2.5bn. We would like the savings to be put back into services so that we can really start to barness the innovation and huge commitment of the himdreds and thousands of people on the front line.

Barry Quirk

Efficiency champion, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, and chief executive, London Borough of Lewisham

There comes a point when incremental efficiencies in delivery become unsustainable and you have to look at the design of the service. So this year, we will need to look at what can be done not just within authorities but also across authorities. That means boroughs working together on things like street lighting and cleaning, counties working with districts, and soon there'll be much more requirement for collaborative working. As for my New Year resolution: there's been a flowering of leadership courses in local government and I think that for every one people attejid, they should be made to go on two management courses - so they can learn about actually getting things done.

Lucy de Groot,

Executive director,

Improvement and Development Agency

Hopefully, 2006 will be the year in which local governrnent starts to define its own future and isn't just defined by everybody else. There will be two strands to this. First, a robust response not just to Lyons but to the whole debate about the role and function of local government. We need to avoid being boxed into being either a commissioner or a provider.

The second strand will be to develop a more mature wav Of improving multi-purpose democratic organisations like local government. That's got to involve a substantial amount of self-improvement, linked into a down-sized and more risk-based regulatory regime. So my New Year resolution there would be to ensure that local government is at the heart of an ambitious self-improvement and regulatory regime which means that the Comprehensive Performance Assessment 2008 doesn't need to happen, because we will have developed an alternative.

Mal Singh

Head of finance professionalism,


The main challenges are going to be up-skilling staff in financial management, which will be met in part by e-learning, classbased training, mentoring and, coaching. But the course itself is just the start; the real emphasis is on, changing behaviour and linking that to improving business performance. The key will be having learning solutions that are flexible and designed around the individual. But the criteria for if success will be having public services delivered at a cost that the public want to pay and at a quality they expect. That's our focus: the link between financial management and delivering public services.

Sir Michael Bichard'


University of the Arts, London

I go into the New Year feeling positive - at last - about the chances of reforming the civil service. That has always been the key to transforming public services and, with a new Cabinet secretary and a team of permanent secretaries who understand the need for change, it could just happen.

I am less positive about where public services are going. A coherent vision for reform before the next spending round is essential and needs to make sense of choice, contestability, inspection, efficiency and local governance.

Lastly, could we seriously begin to address the fact that the gap between high and low achievers in school has widened since 1997? …

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