Treasury staff shadow public services executives

6 Jan 00
The Treasury wants members of its public services directorate to shadow head teachers, NHS executives and senior local government officials to establish a better grasp of government spending priorities.

07 January 2000

One senior civil servant is already working a day a month in an NHS hospital, and the Treasury hopes its local government experts will be invited to undertake a similar exercise in town halls.

The Treasury is anxious not to be seen as attempting to impose its will on the day-to-day management of the NHS and other public services. Still, the step underlines how far, under Chancellor Gordon Brown, the Treasury believes its responsibility now extends to detailed issues of how front-line services are delivered.

A Treasury spokesman commented: 'Our role is in determining priorities in government allocation of resources. We are very keen to get our officials out to the coal-face to improve their understanding of the challenges faced by public services.

'If you are in a team whose job is to resource and improve the quality of the health service, for example, this is a good way to find out what decisions are made and what trade-offs must be faced.'

The Treasury's strategic role in managing the public sector has been growing steadily. Under the 600-plus Public Service Agreements and more recent Service Delivery Agreements, spending departments will win extra cash only if they pledge to meet tough and highly detailed delivery targets.

As a consequence, in the hard-fought negotiations, beginning shortly on the next three-year spending plans running from 2001, what a department can promise in terms of outputs and outcomes will figure as prominently as the resources it demands.


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