The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has raised its estimate for economic growth to 1.8% for 2010 and predicted growth of 2.1% for 2011. It also expects far fewer public sector jobs to be lost over the next four years than initially feared.
These are all positive signs, but there is no doubt 2011 will be a challenging time for all public sector organisations as they try to deliver better public services more efficiently.
Almost all now know what they need to do. A small minority are still in denial, but the majority have realised just how difficult and painful the cost reduction measures will be and are getting on with the job at hand.
Those organisations that get out of the blocks quickly in 2011, taking decisive action, will see positive results and feel the benefits over the Spending Review period. Prevarication in 2011 on the other hand, will lead to difficulties in 2012 and beyond.
From our work across the public sector we know that construction, property and facilities management are still costing too much. Addressing these issues is one of the more effective ways to reduce costs overall, without impacting front-line services.
Political pressure has the potential to constrain ‘spend to save’ opportunities - this is where bold leadership will be needed to drive through initiatives where the business case clearly stacks up.
On both a regional and national level, public sector organisations will need to show joined-up thinking and embrace innovation to unlock value from their built assets, for the benefit of local communities.
Graham Kean, Head of Public