What should Brexit deliver for public services?

23 Jun 18

Two years on from the vote to leave the European Union, members of CIPFA’s Advisory Commission for Public Services were asked what one thing they want Brexit to deliver. Here’s what they said:

Julia Goldsworthy, chair of the Brexit Advisory Commission for Public Services and director of strategy for West Midlands Combined Authority

“There’s a great opportunity for Brexit to catalyse a bold transfer of power and resources to our cities and regions. Their ability to deliver growth in post-Brexit Britain will be key to the project’s success.

“Government’s role is not just about negotiating the right deal, it’s about giving our communities the tools to shape an economy that works for every one of their citizens.”

Rob Whiteman, chief executive of CIPFA

“In reclaiming sovereignty from Brussels, Brexit mustn’t simply vest more power in Westminster.

“By reinforcing the fiscal and strategic role of regions so that they are able to more effectively meet local needs, the UK would have a better chance at healing the deep economic and social divisions that the Brexit vote exposed two years ago.”

Warwick Lightfoot, director of research at Policy Exchange

“In many respects Brexit will have less direct effect on the UK public sector than the implications it potentially has for the traded goods and services sectors of the private marketed part of the economy. The public sector should focus on identifying opportunities to improve its performance that arise from the new flexibility that Brexit will give the UK.

“These opportunities will principally come from making adjustments to regulation arising from EU directives that are disproportionately costly, clumsy and legalistic for the purpose they are seeking to accomplish. The most obvious are the rules that relate to public sector procurement and to the regulation of waste and the expensive rules relating to the use of recycled materials, such as aggregates.

“In terms of Brexit, it will be more useful for the public service to concentrate on these direct and practical issues that relate to efficiency, economy and effectiveness of public services than wider debates about the structure of the public sector and local authorities that could be accomplished in or out of the EU.”

Melanie Maxwell-Scott, director of policy at the Business Services Association

“A third of all government spending goes to external suppliers, some £251.5bn in 2015/6. Brexit provides an excellent opportunity to refresh the mechanism through which this spending is allocated.

“By reducing the unnecessary cost, time delays and unmanageable risk transfer which currently characterises procurement, the government could increase value for the taxpayer, improve services for the user and create more innovative and competitive markets.

“A good place to start would be to move away from lowest cost by prioritising social objectives during the bidding process, such as what the supplier can offer in terms of training, sustainability and supply chain management.”

Anna Randle, chief executive, Collaborate CIC

“As we re-shape our relationships with Europe, we must also re-shape the relationship between Whitehall and local areas across the UK, giving local public services the powers and flexibilities they need to improve outcomes in our communities.

“Brexit can - and must - represent an opportunity for public services and public institutions in the UK to play their part in building a fairer society and a more inclusive economy."

Claire Ling of the Brexit Health Alliance

“Brexit should prioritise public health, healthcare and research for patients in the UK and across the EU.”

Kate Kennally, chief executive of Cornwall Council

“A genuinely new settlement between the state and the citizen, bringing decision making and responsibility much closer to residents and communities. 

“We must not hide behind organisations and bureaucracy but have public services really engaging with local communities to make decisions about the funding and delivery of local services.”

Did you enjoy this article?