A family reunion in Spain and a Spending Review – Treasury public spending chief Cat Little’s 2021 highlights

2020 may have been a year like no other, but 2021 was a chip off the old block and relentless from day one. The Treasury's director general of public spending tells us about 12 more months of dealing with Covid while pushing ahead with new challenges
Spain. Photo: SubtlePanda: Flickr

By Civil Service World

28 Dec 2021


What was your highlight of 2021?

On a personal level, seeing my parents, who live in Spain, for the first time since 2019 following a series of lockdowns and travel restrictions.

Professionally, it has to be the conclusion of the first multi-year spending review since 2015. Following several one-year events, it has been great to refocus on medium-term planning and to bring some much-needed certainty to public services. The 2021 Spending Review brought together collaboration on major policy issues, including recovering from the pandemic, developing public service resilience, investment in major programmes of delivery, net zero, levelling up and growth. 

We are in the midst of the lessons-learnt exercise but this spending review was more collaborative, more open and more focused on outcomes and delivery in practice. I am very proud, especially of the role HM Treasury spending teams and the government finance function played in delivering this event. 

How did you tackle the biggest challenges facing your organisation in 2021?

The biggest challenge this year has been the relentless pace of delivery against the backdrop of hybrid working and the ongoing pandemic. In the government finance function we have focused on a turbo-charged agenda of digital symposiums focused on online learning and development. We have had over 15,000 registrations at 51 digital events. Over 10,000 people are now registered on our online collaboration and knowledge management space One Finance where teams can access the government finance academy, career frameworks, blogs, videos and podcasts through the GFF player and latest technical guidance. Coming together as an online community to focus on resilience, wellbeing, professional training and looking after each other has been key.

What is your number one priority for 2022?

Working with departments to deliver on the commitments made in SR21 – this mobilisation and planning period is absolutely critical. Getting things done quickly and effectively is not easy – mobilising resources and leadership, getting business cases approved, working with partners and suppliers to establish clear outcomes and performance management frameworks – there is a lot of new delivery to do and we need to bring all our expertise and support to bear in setting us all up to succeed without compromising our wellbeing and resilience.

Which historical, mythical or contemporary figure would you most like to join you for a New Year’s Eve celebration?

Probably Adele. Music and great company, can’t go wrong. I love karaoke so would probably hope she would do a piano bar/karaoke event for family and friends. 


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