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CIPFA: Brexit has potential to spark radical reform in public services

Brexit will have a “immeasurable” effect on the running of public services in the UK, but could also provide a “catalyst for much needed reform,” the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has claimed.

In its ‘The Brexit Balance Sheet: Weighing Up the Public Sector Crisis’ report, CIPFA said that due to policies and regulations being closely scrutinised due to Brexit, there was added scope now more than ever to have a fresh look at failing policies.

It also stated that the UK needed to examine regional funding to see whether objectives to boost regional economies were being met – adding that schemes to replace the EU model of funding could reduce the disparity in funding between different regions.

After Article 50 was triggered last week, signalling the UK’s formal exit from Europe, CIPFA announced that it would set up an independent Brexit Advisory Commission for Public Services tasked with protecting the interests of public services during the Brexit negotiation process. The commission will be chaired by Julia Goldsworthy.

Rob Whiteman, chief executive of CIPFA, said: “As we begin to unwind a 40-year-old trading and political relationship, we must ensure that all negotiators, despite their political differences, are singing from the same hymn sheet – that any deal must strengthen and not weaken public services.

“Ensuring the sustainability of public services isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity. Brexit will be the largest-scale policy and legislation exercise we’ve undertaken and will inevitably change the delivery of public services. We must make sure that this is a positive, and not a negative, change.

“Public service leaders must assert themselves throughout the Brexit process and play a visible role throughout the negotiations. CIPFA’s Brexit Advisory Commission will provide the means to do so by representing the interests of the sector.”

Since the process of leaving the EU began, a number of organisations have issued statements about the significant challenges to public services that are posed by Brexit and the action the public sector must take to prepare for these issues.

The LGA called on the government after the White Paper on the Great Repeal Bill was published to put councils at the centre of decisions to alter EU legislation into UK law as the negotiation process was ongoing over the next two years. 

Last week, two separate public sector unions the FDA and PCS both warned that the Civil Service was “woefully underprepared” to cope with the challenges posed by Brexit, and needed greater funding to ensure it was equipped for the UK’s negotiations out of the EU.

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