Greg Hands hails “impressive progress” on Treasury’s Financial Management Reform programme

Chief secretary to the Treasury Greg Hands says his department’s five-strand programme – designed to put finance at the heart of government decision-making – is on course and delivering results

By Jim Dunton

29 Jan 2016

Treasury chief secretary Greg Hands has told a conference that a five-strand programme designed to put finance at the heart of government decision-making is on-course and delivering multimillion-pound results.

Speaking at the event in Birmingham on Thursday, Hands said the Treasury’s Financial Management Reform Programme had already introduced a finance Fast Stream, established talent forums, recruitment campaigns higher up the career ladder, and that a “finance academy” was in the pipeline.

“The programme is committed to ensuring five things in particular,” he said. “First, creating a pipeline of talent, one that extends to senior roles; second, developing the skills of everyone working in finance; third, sharing expertise and developing more standardised processes across departments; fourth, enhanced use of data and management information across government; and fifth, introducing new projects on specific areas of government spend, so we can develop a more detailed understanding of the spending issues involved.”

Hands said there had been “impressive progress” on all fronts and that, in addition to the personnel work, 10 costing projects had already been completed.

“These have allowed us to implement savings of £100m for infrastructure policing, or – another example – announce £600m extra for mental health services,” he said.

“Within the Treasury, we now have a Costing Centre of Excellence. Down the line, this will make government much better at forecasting what specific projects will cost – which is invaluable for agreeing budgets.

“We have a strategy in place for improving the data from which we make decisions – not least through ’data sprints’, which are six-week projects to provide immediate insight into particular issues.”

Hands said ministers were also in the process of agreeing a Finance Operating Model for government that would enable expertise to be better shared, making the finance profession much more effective.

Hands confessed to the Financial Management Reform conference that the work could not be described as “sexy”, but insisted it was vital for meeting the nation’s aspirations for its public services.

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