CIPFA: The next government must be a standard bearer for strong governance

22 May 17

CIPFA has called on the next government to be a standard bearer for strong governance and public financial management.

The membership body’s 2017 general election manifesto highlights the need for robust financial management and a willingness to plan for the medium and long term.

Rob Whiteman, CIPFA chief executive, said: “Political stability is essential for the strength of the public finances on which the country’s security, education, health, and social wellbeing all depend.

“Beyond the issue of Brexit, this election gives us the chance to have an open debate over the affordability of long held policies, such as the triple lock on pensions and differential rates of national insurance for the self- employed.”

He urged politicians not to make undeliverable promises regarding the funding  of public services.

CIPFA set out the following public finance priorities for the next government:

1.       Stronger central strategic financial management and making spending decisions on evidence-based assessments

The UK currently faces increasingly challenged public services and spending constraints. There needs to be a renewed focus on effectiveness, which will require building capacity, improving skills and putting in place better financial leadership, structures and reporting processes.

 2.       Greater fiscal devolution away from Westminster

The relationship between central government and the devolved nations and local government should be redressed to allow local public services to be provided more effectively and decisions on funding to be taken at the right level.

 3.       An understanding of the risks and opportunities to the public sector must be central to the Government’s Brexit negotiations

As well as quantifying the risks, examining the opportunities for public service transformation must also be given equal ministerial consideration during the Brexit talks.

There also needs to consideration of the pressure facing the sector due to increasing uncertainty, such as the rising number of unfilled vacancies.

4.       Urgent action must be taken to put health and social care on a sustainable footing

Reforms to create a sustainable health and social care system is needed or both health and social care budgets risk being stretched to breaking point.  CIPFA remains of the view that NHS and social care funding should be linked to a minimum share of GDP.

5.       Deliverable affordable housing must be a top priority

Sufficient and affordable housing underpins social stability and economic growth. An increased reliance on housing benefit over the last 20 years has seen long term housing investment replaced by short-term subsidisation.

This imbalance has created a vulnerability that was exposed under welfare reform – there was evidence the reforms are contributing to increasing levels of homelessness for households.

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