It’s time for better budgeting

Budgets are important. They help our organisations to understand what resources they have available. They give us the opportunity to plan what we want to do and how we’ll pay for it. And they allow us to see how we’re doing as the year progresses. But let’s be honest: The annual budgeting process is a monumental pain in the backside. There must be a better way.

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Improving financial management in local authorities

CIPFA FM Code GN

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has just published the guidance notes to accompany its new Financial Management Code. The guidance notes will help local authorities to improve further the robustness and resilience of their financial management arrangements. And I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to work with CIPFA to prepare them. Continue reading

Why going over budget isn’t always your fault

Budgets are important. They allow an organisation to understand where its financial resources are coming from and to prioritise where they will be spent. They also act as an early warning system if things aren’t going according to plan. So overspending against your budget can be a problem. But it isn’t necessarily your fault. And here’s why. Continue reading

Where next for local government funding?

With each week that passes, it seems that another local authority joins the list of those whose finances have reached crisis point. First it was Northamptonshire County Council that hit the headlines, but top-tier councils in Sussex, Lancashire, Suffolk, Surrey, Torbay and Oxfordshire also seem to be feeling the heat. And Somerset County Council, down the road from me, has just voted through £28 million of cuts over the next two years, leading opposition councillors to describe the council as on the ‘brink of bankruptcy’. Continue reading

Keeping it in the family

The rationale for outsourcing services has long been an article of faith across the public sector. Lower costs, greater expertise, increased economies of scale. Or so says the theory, at least. And it is a rare local authority – or NHS trust, university or other publicly-funded body – that hasn’t contracted out at least some of its activities.

But what once seemed such a rock-solid argument appears now to be built on less-than-stable foundations. Continue reading