Public sector bosses ‘ill-equipped’ to deal with budget cuts, managers say

Nearly one-third of public sector managers fear their bosses are ill-equipped to deal with looming budget cuts, new research has revealed.

A survey of more than 1,500 public sector managers found 31% were concerned their bosses were unprepared to tackle forthcoming financial restraints, while 74% believed their teams were already working to full capacity with little room for efficiency savings.

The Leading Change in the Public Sector report, by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), also showed 73% of managers expected the budget constraints to cause increased workloads, while a further 67% felt the need for efficiencies would cause increased stress.

The figures come after public sector employment experts called for HR chiefs to improve performance management and look at best practice from other sectors to help deal with the forthcoming budget cuts.

Penny de Valk, chief executive of the ILM, said: “Now, more than ever, we need to develop public sector managers and support them to drive innovation, productivity and performance, so that vital day-to-day services do not suffer.”

Other survey results:
what managers said

  • 49% said headcounts would have to be reduced
  • 33% warned they might leave the public sector in the next 18 months
  • 69% of the managers had already experienced budget cuts in the past year
  • 42% said budget cuts could help to tackle inefficiency.
But the ILM report found managers were expecting training and development budgets to be cut. Of the 89% who said they were expecting further cuts over the coming 12 to 18 months, 48% predicted a reduction in funding for training and development.

De Valk added: “Rather than having their budgets salami-sliced from afar, managers need the freedom and support to deliver radical changes to service delivery.”

Earlier this week, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development warned redundancies could almost double in the first quarter of 2010 as the downturn hit the public sector before the private sector had a chance to recover.

Councils including Birmingham City Council have already announced they will have to cut thousands of jobs to meet budget restraints.

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