Cutting government down to size



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GOVERNMENT should be smaller, simpler and less bureaucratic.

That’s one of the principles that Tynwald will be asked to approve when it debates a Council of Ministers’ report on the reducing the Scope of Government at next week’s sitting.

A revised independent report into the Scope of Government was published back in the spring.

It was updated at the Chief Minister Allan Bell’s request by the review team, chaired by former Clerk of Tynwald Robert Quayle, which produced the original Scope and Structure of Government study in 2006.

The authors of the revised report concluded that some services should be contracted out to external operators or ‘corporatised’ i.e. run on a more commercial basis by government-owned companies. It also called again for local government to be restructured so that local authorities can take on services devolved from central government.

Now CoMin has come back with its recommendations.

It asked Tynwald to support the principle that government should be smaller, simpler and less bureaucratic - and departments, statutory boards and offices should look at all options for service delivery and choose the most suitable option based on a sound business case and the needs of the public.

They must review all service delivery functions by December 31 this year.

Where services remain in government, they will be delivered in the most effective way possible.

The CoMin report says services provided by local authorities should be wholly funded by local authorities.

Where a new model for delivery of services involves the transfer of staff to an external body, their existing terms and conditions will be considered and the transfer carried out on a fair and reasonable basis.

Where possible, if public services are to compete with the private sector, competition must be fair, with special care being taken to avoid cross-subsidising commercial operations from revenue funded budgets.

And where it is chosen to deliver a service using alternative means external to government, it will do so in a fair manner through a process of competition and in line with financial regulations.

When privatisation of an existing monopoly services is proposed, government would retain control of the capital assets.

CoMin will ensure all proposals put forward are considered on an individual basis and have appropriate political endorsement.

Working in partnership with local authorities, the Department of Infrastructure and Department of Social Care will identify services suitable for delivery through a revised local government structure and review how services can best be funded in the future.

Proposals for the reform of the two biggest areas of expenditure in local authorities – housing and waste collection and disposal – will be brought to Tynwald in the autumn.

But CoMin has concluded it will not support one of the recommendations of the scope report, saying it would not be appropriate to create a Department of Corporate Development at this time.

Ministers say they will not promote the implementation of TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) legislation at this time.

Unions have been pressing the case for TUPE, a piece of legislation that protects terms and conditions of employment if your employment transfers to another employer.

In a supplementary report produced by the independent review team earlier this year, the authors expressed concern that the government’s rebalancing strategy ‘may not be sufficiently ambitious’.

They controversially outlined a series of areas for major savings including phasing out or limiting the Manx pension supplement, rationalising hospital services in outlying areas, cutting grants for farmers and support for social housing and even mothballing or restricting the use of government facilities such as the Gaiety/Villa Marina complex.

They admitted these areas of major savings will be ‘contentious’ and prove ‘financially and politically sensitive’.

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