The cost of things

I am a big fan of the ‘slow’ movement. For those not familiar with the concept, ‘slow’ is about doing things mindfully, taking the time to focus on what we are doing and making a conscious effort to do it well. ‘Slow food’, for example, encourages people to choose fresh, high quality ingredients, to cook them with care and to take the time to enjoy eating them, preferably with family or friends. Continue reading

All change in local government

As the funding cuts start to bite, things are changing rapidly in local government. But this is only the start. My own local authority, for example, managed to find savings of £17.5m in 2011/12 and needs to identify another £30m by 2015. And if the trend continues, they estimate that they will have to cut expenditure by a further £39m by 2018. This will leave the Council with only half of the resources that it had in 2010/11. Continue reading

Building resilient public services

At the annual conference of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) last week, Amyas Morse, the head of the National Audit Office, called on the government to explain how it will respond to failing public services in the new environment of increased competition and spending restraint. Continue reading

Three easy ways to cut travel costs

Travel costs might not form the biggest part of your organisation’s budget, but they are probably one of the easiest to cut. However, while restricting how much your people can travel may help to save money, it can also restrict their ability to do their jobs well. So before you cancel all off-site meetings or ban everyone from leaving the office altogether, try these three simple ideas. Continue reading

The costs of sharing corporate services

In a report issued today, the National Audit Office has concluded that government attempts to save money by sharing ‘back office’ services such as finance and human resources have actually ended up costing more money than they have saved. It appears that by creating complex services overly tailored to individual departments, the five shared services centres review by the NAO have increased costs and reduced flexibility. There has also been a failure, the report says, to develop the benchmarks necessary for measuring performance. Continue reading