From Mr Charles Tilley and Mr Peter Riddell.
Sir, The publication of the Treasury’s Financial Management Review is an important milestone in professionalising Whitehall’s finance function.
Over the past decade, Whitehall has strengthened the qualifications and experience of its finance professionals. The days when finance was another of the “generalist” parts of the civil service are thankfully well behind us.
However, our joint work over the past couple of years has shown that there is still a long way to go. As the Autumn Statement emphasised, austerity will continue for the foreseeable future. Effective decision-making must be rooted in sound management accounting principles. The chancellor and chief secretary are absolutely right to recognise that Whitehall’s decisions will need to be underpinned by strategic insights relating outcomes to costs and risks, which finance professionals routinely provide as part of any major corporation’s deliberations.
They have rightly committed the Treasury to joining up its strategic control of public spending with the leadership of the Government Finance Profession, ending the surprising situation where the head of profession sat outside the UK’s finance ministry. We particularly welcome the commitment to appointing a qualified and experienced professional to fill this essential role (“Hunt for FTSE 100 chief to shake up Whitehall”, December 16). Bringing in someone with experience of leading a large, distributed finance function into the Treasury is a vital part of strengthening financial management across government. Most importantly, this person will need support from the top of Whitehall and across departments to succeed.
Charles Tilley, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
Peter Riddell, Director, Institute for Government
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