CIPD calls for commitment to public sector reform

When
Gordon Brown unveils the details of his latest spending review to MPs today he
must demonstrate that the Government is serious about turning the aspiration of
better public service management into reality.

That
is the message from John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute
of Personnel and Development (CIPD), speaking ahead of publication of the
review.

Philpott
said the time for simply talking a good game on modernising the public services
had passed.

"Ministers
are absolutely right when they say they want to champion the users of public
services over public service provider," he said.

"Yet
look at what is happening on the ground. There is a serious question mark over
whether the Government is pursuing a genuine modernising agenda.

"Managers
and workers at local level complain of too little discretion and too much
constraint when it comes to how they go about meeting Whitehall delivery
targets.

"This
is, to some degree, understandable… but the resulting red tape undermines the
autonomy and trust needed for high performance. It also demotivates staff, to
the detriment of service improvements," said Philpott.

CIPD
research shows that poor people management is a key cause of stress in the
public sector with central government officials complaining about this aspect
of their work in particular.

"It
seems to be no accident that central government has one the highest rates of
absenteeism across the range of public, voluntary and private sector
organisations, nor that many public bodies face serious staff recruitment and
retention difficulties despite the relatively strong growth in public sector
pay rates in recent years," said Philpott.

"Poor
people management is hardly likely to be conducive to a smooth process of
downsizing in Whitehall departments as the Government tries to realise
potential savings highlighted by the Gershon review."

The
CIPD believes that the Government should thus refocus its existing approach to
reform to:


further, and significantly, reduces the number of centralised targets


greatly increases consultation on the targets that are set


allow managers much more discretion at a local level over pay levels


put people management at the heart of the reform process.

 "CIPD research shows that local
leadership that is capable of energising and enabling people is the key to
transformational change and performance improvements in the public sector,
especially when accompanied by good people management practices," said
Philpott.

"The
chancellor must use this spending review to show that the UK public services
can be led and managed in just this way."

By Mike Berry

Comments are closed.