Well the ‘big day’ came and went last week – by this I mean the long-awaited announcement from Chancellor George Osbourne concerning cuts to public-sector spend…the Comprehensive Spending Review, 20th October 2010. I thought a bit of a post-mortem via the PPMA blog, CSI-style, was topical stuff for this week’s jottings.
It’s my view in the end it was all pretty much as we expected and had been forecast by the media. OK it was £81b reduction over the next four years, rather than £83b – but according to the BBC news coverage I watched, the impact on my (Local Government Services) was 26% reduction in funding and that’s more or less what we all predicted.
Many of us have been gearing up for this for some considerable time – and in my two boroughs (Sutton and Merton) respective transformation programmes are well on their way, recognising that we need to get on and make difficult decisions quickly – not only to meet new budget constraints but also to assist with effective employee engagement (dithering will not pass muster in my view).
I welcome the Government’s decision to support apprenticeships further – in particular if this will see new job and training opportunities for young people, who have been hit particularly hard by this recession, according to statistics from the National Office for Statistics – 927,000 unemployed and likely to rise.
I was saddened to see Train to Gain go under CSR – not because the scheme was straightforward – in many ways it was a bureaucratic monolith in practice, but the concept of addressing the skills deficit amongst employed adults is a sound premise…especially for enabling cross-sector employment transferability whether relating to service transformation, or to help the CSR forecast of 490,000 public sector redundancies, with 100,000 in Local Government. Through Train to Gain we (Sutton and Merton) also produced tangible customer improvements – as measured externally by local resident satisfaction surveys.
The press were quite excited about CIPD research published on Monday 18th October 2010 that revealed over 50% of public sector workers have a propensity to take strike action. Whether this is reality post CSR remains to be seen. If public sector employers are clear with their retrenchment plans, open in communications and deliver fair approaches to reductions I think it will go a long way to avoiding industrial unrest.
Our challenges may be considerable but I believe we have the talents to meet the moment -after all the rest of the country and the UK economy now depends on the public sector delivering the £81b.