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ACCA: Accountants can help restore credibility of public authorities
Accountancy News |
Accountancy professionals will have a key role to play in rebuilding consumer faith in public services over the coming years, one industry expert has claimed.
Gillian Fawcett, head of public sector at the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA), claimed that good governance is at the heart of local authority service provision, and strong leadership, transparency and accountability holds the key to achieving this.
She commented that "doing things behind closed doors" makes it hard for people to appreciate why changes are being made to the services they rely on.
And with the government implementing £81 billion worth of cuts over the coming years, there is a risk that local people could feel alienated by government-funded bodies.
Ms Fawcett said that as power shifts from central government to local public services, it will be critical that governance and accountability is strengthened if voters' confidence is to be restored.
"Both politicians and the accountancy profession need to take a long-term view on these issues to ensure public services are sustainable for the future, which meet both present day needs as well as those for future generations," she added.
"Finance professionals will have a vital role to play in finding this balance. New skills will need to be developed for reporting on sustainability and well-being, and accountants are well-placed to rise to the challenge."
Ms Fawcett recognised the fact that the government is "stuck between a rock and a hard place" when it comes to public service reform.
"[Ministers] face the dilemma of rising public expectations with people wanting more individually tailored services, but at the same time not wanting to pay higher taxes," she noted.
"The challenge going forward in a period of significant financial retrenchment is for governments not to lose sight of achieving effective outcomes at the expense of achieving short term efficiency savings."
Last month, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development warned that up to 1.6 million jobs could be lost as a result of the government's wide-ranging austerity measures.
Posted by Stephen Wilkinson
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