Snap election presents opportunity, says CIPFA

18 Apr 17

The decision to hold an early election will offer the opportunity to debate the affordability of long-held policies which affect public finances, according to CIPFA.

Theresa May said holding a snap election on June 8 – ahead of the planned date in 2020 - was in the “national interest”, outside Number 10 Downing Street today. 

Rob Whiteman, CIPFA chief executive, reacted: “Beyond Brexit, a general election does give us a chance to debate openly the affordability of long-held policies, like the triple lock on pensions and differential rates of national insurance for the self-employed.

“And most importantly public service leaders will be hoping that in this campaign there will be no undeliverable promises made about the future funding of public services.”

He added: "Political stability is essential for the strength of the public finances on which the country’s security, education, health, and social wellbeing all depend.”

However Oliver Ilott , senior researcher at think-tank Institute for Government, said the early election would “eat into” time taken for domestic implementation – weakening the level of parliamentary scrutiny.

He said: “Brexit is not just about negotiations between the UK and the EU. The government has a lot of work to do to prepare Whitehall to fill in the gaps left by leaving the EU.

“This includes a programme of legislation – headed by the Great Repeal Bill but followed by 10-15 other Brexit bills – and a series of ‘implementation projections’ on customs, immigration and so on to ensure that the UK has the systems in place to avoid a cliff-edge.”

He pointed out the UK will enter purdah in the run-up to the election and much of that work will stop. “The Queen’s Speech, which had been pencilled in for mid to late May, will now be delayed and with it the start of an already tight legislative programme,” he predicted.

“That means even less time for scrutiny.”

May stated this morning: “We need a general election and we need one now, because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin”.

She is seeking to strengthen her mandate ahead of the Brexit talks, which will get fully underway following the German and French elections this summer.

The prime minister triggered Article 50 on 29 March, to start the formal proccess of leaving the EU, which is intended to take two years.


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