Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Watmore and Willets

Second session is from Ian Watmore, Chair of Efficiency Reform Group, Cabinet Office.

Had experience of reductions to funding, dealing with expectations, dealing with debt, and introducing efficiencies when working at Football Association. Government had similar challenges: Getting costs into line, diversification of income, paying off debt, concentrating on core business.
This government's deficit reduction plan means we're not in same position as some of other European countries. Everyone looking to what we're doing as we're on a much more positive trajectory.

Core strategy behind deficit reduction strategy, summed up in 3 slogans:

Not more for less, because less is so much less with reductions of 30%. So, better for less. Better might mean not doing it all. Could mean outsourcing, stopping, doing just good enough. Do things in a different way.

Not spend to save, but saving to spend. If you want to do something, then save more aggressively and reinvest.

Credibility begins at home. Attack waste in your area. Eg expenditure on consultancy. Reduce marketing budget. Perks of job, first class travel etc.

Not just about cost reduction but about reform. All public sector services to be delivered over web. All back office systems being re-engineered. New business models for public sector being developed, some partnerships with private sector.
Deregulation, the red tape challenge. All regulation being looked at. Will be abolished unless there's a reason to keep it
Better use of local and voluntary sectors, and also using SMEs rather than always going to big corporates.

Enjoyed this session. He'd be an interesting attendee at some of our business meetings.....

Next session from David Willetts, Minster of State for Higher Education and Science

Don't want to see return to bleak cuts environment, that his own party was associated with in late 80s with cuts to unit of resource and reductions to quality. If work we together can avoid it. Changes to funding arrangements have meant that there is a stream of cash flowing into universities. If this is taken alongside efficiency proposals, then quality of education and student experience will be higher.

Benchmarking, transparency and better data crucial. TRAC data, use it or lose it. It's either a burden and no good in which we should get rid of it, or it's a crucial part of our financial information. At moment in limbo.
Wouldn't it be good if students could use it to see where our costs fall and what we're doing to control them.

Pay and pensions. Academic pay has caught up with and in some cases overtaken other equivalent professions. How much of new fee income will be used for pay, and how much for investment in improvement in services? Should be mainly WP and improvements to infrastructure and services, as pay has caught up.

Procurement, needs to be more collaborative. Government needs to play its part. Are discussions going on re VAT and EU procurement.

Announcement today of initiative between HEFCE and Leadership foundation of £1m for innovation in delivering recommendations of the Modernisation and Efficiency Report.

Implementation up to universities, scrutiny will be as much by students and prospective students as well as BIS. Will be a challenge. Need to be open and transparent with our information on what we're spending the new fee income on. It needs to be accurate and trusted.

Keen to see more collaboration between Universities, is the opportunity for sharing of IT capacity and software developments.

Universities not part of the public sector. If we were, would be more controls and obligations. Mission of HE includes private and public benefit and this is reflected in the flow of public funds.

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