Critical thinking for critical times

By Rob Whiteman | 15 August 2018
  • Rob Whiteman

The financial strain faced by local government is an issue that can no longer be easily ignored. Northamptonshire CC’s financial situation is in large part the result of a failure of leadership, but with the news that East Sussex CC amongst others intends to strip back services to the statutory minimum, we see how even well-run local authorities are faced with financial insecurity. Indeed, East Sussex is known to have an effective and robust financial management function, which is supporting the corporate leadership being given there.

As we look to the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, we are in a unique position, in as much as the principle investment decision has already been taken, which is to materially increase funding to the NHS. The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) advice therefore is to look within existing funding envelopes for the majority of medium-term planning decisions. We hope that together with other stakeholders the local government sector can successfully lobby for enhanced resources, in areas such as adult services and children’s services. We will also work hard for good solutions on rate retention and fair funding, but uniquely CIPFA’s role goes beyond lobbying. Our royal charter, which states our responsibilities as a standard setter and regulatory role in relation to accountants’ professional conduct, means that we must say what needs to be done if the lobbying doesn’t succeed.

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