Government ‘failing to engage over Brexit’

27 Jun 18

Three-quarters of public service leaders feel the government has not engaged sufficiently with their organisation over Brexit, a CIPFA survey has revealed.

And around half (49%) of public service leaders believe Brexit will have a major impact upon the policy that shapes their sector, the poll found.

Despite this, 44% of public service leaders said they are receiving an insufficient amount of information from the Department for Exiting the European Union to plan effectively for leaving the EU.

CIPFA chief executive Rob Whiteman said: “It’s now been two years since the Brexit vote and 14 months since Article 50 was triggered, yet the vast majority of public service leaders still feel that the government is keeping them in the dark.

“As the government must want a Brexit dividend to be a more sustainable and effective public sector, it is crucial that light is shed on what the UK’s future relationship with the EU will look like – and soon.

“Otherwise, public service leaders won’t have the time or information to respond.”

Polling by the institute found that, overall, 75% of respondents are feeling more negative about Brexit than they did one year ago.

Julia Goldsworthy, chair of CIPFA’s Brexit Advisory Commission for Public Services, said: “It is critical that communication channels are open between the government and public service leaders over Brexit.

“Not just to ensure that public services leaders have an adequate level of information to plan effectively but also to help identify reform opportunities presented by Brexit that will help organisations better meet the needs of the communities they serve.”

In preparation for Brexit, public service leaders said they are budgeting for price increases and are buying more from suppliers now to prevent higher costs in future.

Public service leaders are also anticipating a reduction in their EU workforce, lengthening of austerity, loss of environmental protection and a dearth of research grants.

But the survey, which had 282 respondents, identified several areas that leaders saw as offering an opportunity to reshape policy for the better.

In particular, agricultural policy, the government’s approach to VAT, and reshaping overly restrictive state aid were all named as areas that could be changed for the better.

Overall, 46% of leaders think Brexit will be detrimental to public services, while 37% think it will be highly detrimental. Just 1% of respondents believe Brexit will be highly beneficial for public services.

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