Financial Skills Deficiency at Whitehall, Costing Taxpayers’ Money
ACCA believes that in order to make long term savings and improved services the civil service needs to enhance financial management skills across Whitehall. As per ACCA, the finance function of United Kingdome’s public sector is competent enough. However improvement is needed in functions such as data analysis, procurement, financial and project management.
As per Gillian Fawcett, head of public sector at ACCA, appointment of the first Chief Financial Officer at the Whitehall is not sufficient; rather more deep-rooted solution of improving the public sectors’ finance function is required to bring in the real change. These changes are important for the taxpayer as reduction in spending and increase in savings in central government and other public sector organisations is going to increase in the coming years. Following the private sector, finance professionals working in public sector need to have the entire picture in their mind to be more effective.
Whitehall recognises the need to improve the financial skills to some extent, but fails to accept the biggest hindrance i.e. establishing a finance profession within the central government which is taken as a value addition to the entire system by colleagues. For this, ACCA believes a culture change is required under which economists and generalists accept the importance of financial management in decision making process of the Government.
ACCA feels the need to change the current culture prevailing within the public sector, where the civil service finance professionals either leave or modify their roles on frequent basis. Such culture acts as an obstacle in good governance and requires immediate attention.
Gillian Fawcett stated that the frequent change within the senior management results in major governance issues and impacts corporate memory. It limits the learning capabilities and undermines the expansion of best practices. He further added that the persistent lack of skills at procurement, project and financial management makes the situation worse across Whitehall.