Tuesday, 5 July 2011

It’s not about costs…it’s about courage at Civil Service Live

‘Its not all about costs’ was the topic under discussion at the Capita Symonds session on the first day of Civil Service Live at Olympia.

Chaired by political commentator and Senior Fellow, Institute for Government Peter Riddell the session offered both a public and private sector perspective on, as Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell (right) put it in his opening remarks “how we deliver public service with a third less money.”

O’Donnell went on to assert that the efficiency agenda is one that the civil service needs to own and that by managing the efficiency challenge – by avoiding excessive spend on procurement, communications etc – less will need to be cut from resources or front end service.

He also saw the commercial skills of the private sector as vital in helping the public sector, and mutuals, develop their ideas and potentially provide the capital necessary for making them a reality. Summing up, he challenged the private sector on how they can bring their specific skills to the public sector.

Fiona Spencer, Director of Shared Services at the Home Office outlined how shared business services – such as finance, procurement and HR – can cut costs and improve services.

She showed how the Ministry of Justice and Home Office’s shared business centre in Newport, now utilised by over 120,000 public sector staff, is now making savings of £33m pa.

Jonathan Goring, MD Capita Symonds told the audience that the private sector has “massive appetite” for working for the public sector – and for being judged on results rather than being tied into long contracts.

He explained how the private sector can bring capital investment to enable the public sector to enhance its assets, and how enhanced revenue collection such as rents can reduce the need for painful cuts elsewhere.

On behalf of the private sector he urged the public sector to “let us in and allow us to take a look” at the challenges they face so that better solutions can be proposed to the issues of the poor quality of asset/income data, ageing assets and the limited internal capital available to rationalise.

“It’s all about courage” Goring summarised, inviting individual government departments to be the first to embrace true partnership working with the private sector.

Wednesday 06 July sees Capita hosting a session on its Service Birmingham joint venture with Birmingham City Council and Capita Symonds invitation-only roundtable also takes place at the event – reported in Civil Service World magazine in coming weeks.

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