Whitehall ‘will not cut accountancy jobs’

1 Mar 10
The professionalism of finance across government is unlikely to be stalled by the looming spending cuts, Public Finance has learnt
By Lucy Phillips

1 March 2010

The number of qualified finance professionals across government is set to continue to increase despite the looming squeeze on public spending, Public Finance has learnt.

A new cross-Whitehall recruitment strategy, headed by the Department for Work and Pensions, has been launched with the intention of recruiting up to 120 qualified and part-qualified finance posts this year. The 10,000-strong workforce has already risen from 9,000 in 2008.

But all hiring will now be done through one recruitment agency, Capita, three times a year, with individual departments no longer responsible for their own appointments. The first round will see up to 40 roles filled at the DWP, Treasury, Home Office and Ministry of Justice.

Nick Jackson, head of finance professionalism at the Treasury, said the new approach would reduce overall recruitment costs, giving the government more purchasing power with Capita. It was part of a drive to be ‘more efficient and joined up’, he told PF.

While the latest recruitment drive represented a ‘fraction’ of the total number of finance professionals in government, Jackson expected further expansion of the profession despite the ongoing threat of more shared back-office functions and job losses.

‘In certain areas, jobs are being scaled back but in finance you always need people to keep the books and, in the current climate, finance is at the heart of being able to deliver the fiscal consolidation challenge that we face. Demand is looking to remain strong,’ he said.

The centralised hiring strategy also aims to promote wider career paths, with finance professionals being encouraged to move around government departments every three to four years.  ‘We want people to move around more than they have done historically,’ added Jackson.

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