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LOCAL AUTHORITIES NEED SUPPORT AS THEY FACE MAJOR LEGISLATIVE CHANGES

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Local government needs support to effectively manage the major legislative changes about to be introduced, warns th...
Local government needs support to effectively manage the major legislative changes about to be introduced, warns the Institute of Public Finance (IPF).

'Local authorities are about to face major new legislation that will impact on both service managers and elected members. In order for them to meet these challenges they will need to be well prepared, and this will involve training both staff and councillors,' explained Ian Fifield, training services manager at IPF.

He continued: 'Amongst these changes the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) is providing a major new challenge for all local authorities. It builds on previous legislation on performance management in the public sector, is all encompassing and will have major implications for all councils.'

CPA assessments will mean that financial management arrangements will be assessed as part of the overall Corporate Governance Inspection, and they will have specific judgements made about them as part of this process. The way an authority manages its finances will significantly impact on its CPA assessment. Subject to the assessment given, there may also be new possibilities to trade services more widely than at present.

Ian concluded: 'In addition to the CPA, the forthcoming Code of Practice for capital finance for local authorities will herald major changes in the way local authorities plan and manage capital projects. To ensure they get the most out of the new arrangements, authorities should be commencing start a review of their staff's financial management and planning skills now.

'The effect of this significant legislative agenda will require revised financial planning. It will also provide each local authority with considerable local flexibility in regard to capital borrowing and, potentially, the ability to trade services. This will impact not only on finance professionals but also on elected members and service managers. Effective training is therefore essential for local success.'

Notes

1IPF is the wholly owned commercial arm of CIPFA providing a comprehensive range of services including advisory and consortia services, information, training and consultancy, property and software and European and international services that are utilised by over 1,800 public and private sector bodies. IPF has a turnover of£18m and currently employs 150 staff.

2The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) is one of the leading professional accountancy bodies in the UK and the only one that specialises in the public services. It is responsible for the education and training of professional accountants and for their regulation through the setting and monitoring of professional standards. Uniquely among the professional accountancy bodies in the UK, CIPFA has responsibility for setting accounting standards for a significant part of the economy, namely local government. CIPFA's members work (often at the most senior level) in public service bodies, in the national audit agencies and major accountancy firms. They are respected throughout for their high technical and ethical standards and professional integrity.

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