A radical proposal to streamline government was unveiled today by Chief Minister Allan Bell.
The plan aims to cut bureaucracy by reducing the number of separate government organisations, with the loss of two departments, one statutory board and one Office. It will mean the Council of Ministers shrinking from the current nine Ministers to eight.
Central co-ordination of policies will be reinforced under the proposals through the creation of a Cabinet Office and a new Minister for Policy and Reform.
However, the government can’t say how much money would be saved by the proposals and says that it wants to avoid redundancies.
Tynwald members were briefed this afternoon on the proposals which are contained in a draft CoMin report. The plans are due to go to the January Tynwald and if approved will take effect from April next year.
It’s the first restructuring of government since April 2010.
As widely anticipated, the proposal will see the Department of Community, Culture and Leisure disbanded, with the transfer of its component parts to other departments in preparation for the outcome of the Scope review, which has been looking at alternative ways to deliver services.
Health and Social Care, which were split in the 2010 restructuring, will be reunited once more, recognising the interdependence of these two areas and their common issues, particularly the needs of an ageing population. Social security will move out of Social Care to Treasury which will take over responsibility for welfare reforms.
Also widely billed is the merger of the Manx Electricity Authority and Water and Sewerage Authority to form a Manx Utilities Authority.
A new Cabinet Office will combine key central functions, taking in the Chief Secretary’s Office, the Office of Human Resources, Information Systems Division, and Economic Affairs.
And a new Minister for Policy and Reform will be created, responsible for leading on the co-ordination of policy across government, workforce reforms, change and efficiency programmes including Scope, and prioritisation of legislation.
The Minister would chair the Civil Service Commission, soon to become the Public Services Commission (the new employing body for the majority of the public service) and the Business Change Steering Group.
The Chief Minister said: ‘The Council of Ministers’ Agenda for Change document presented to Tynwald in January this year included a commitment to make government smaller, simpler and less bureaucratic.
‘That is what the public expects and that is what we are now proposing, starting at the top with the Council of Ministers but also creating new opportunities to streamline senior management and reduce staff numbers.’
Following DCCL’s scrapping, its sports functions (including NSC, Regional Swimming Pools, Sports Development Unit and Isle of Man Sport) and the Arts Council will go to the Department of Education and Children; Leisure (including the Villa Marina/ Gaiety Theatre) and the Welcome Centre will move the Department of Economic Development who could work with Manx National Heritage, as appropriate, to deliver these services,
The Wildlife Park will come under the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture and public transport will move to Department of Infrastructure pending decision on future arrangements.
No announcements have been made about which ministers would head which departments.
The government released this question-and-answer factsheet as part of the announcement:
What does the proposed modernisation of ministerial government set out to achieve?
The aim is to create a smaller, simpler and more customer-focused government in line with the ambitions highlighted in the Agenda for Change document.
The reforms are intended to deliver:
a reduction in the number of Ministers – from 9 to 8;
a reduction in management and staff numbers;
a reduction in the number of Government organisations;
centrally driven and co-ordinated policy development;
joined up delivery of health and social care;
more cost effective delivery of public utilities
What will the proposed changes involve?
Subject to approval, the proposed reforms would lead to:
a combined Department of Health and Social Care;
the provision of a Ministerial lead for Policy and Reform;
the creation of a Cabinet Office to encompass business change, information technology, human resources and economic policy;
the creation of a Manx Utilities Authority by merging the Manx Electricity Authority and Water and Sewerage Authority;
the dissolution of the Department of Community, Culture and Leisure.
What would government look like after the changes?
The current structure of nine departments, six Offices and nine statutory boards would be reduced to seven departments, five offices and eight statutory boards.
Why push ahead with the modernisation of ministerial government when the Scope of Government reviews have not yet been completed?
A great deal of work has taken place over the past year in relation to Scope of Government. The reviews cover approximately 200 areas of government representing services with a value of about £164 million. Some of the emerging themes have focused on the need for stronger policy development and more joined up working. We have taken on board those very strong messages from our workforce to develop a platform better suited to delivering much-needed reform.
Why revisit the structure of Government when major changes took place in 2010?
The previous exercise addressed the structure of government in isolation, whereas we are now focusing on both scope and structure to drive forward the changes needed to create a more financially and socially sustainable future for the Isle of Man. The proposed modernisation of ministerial government is aimed at providing the right platform to begin addressing the scope of government. The intention is that the outcome of these work streams will lead to a smaller and more cost efficient government.
What new elements will be created by these changes?
The proposed changes include the creation of three new bodies of government:
Department of Health and Social Care, and
Manx Utilities Authority
This will be achieved through the dissolution and merger of numerous government organisations, resulting in a reduction in the number of government departments, boards and offices. In particular, the Department of Community, Culture and Leisure will be dissolved and its functions transferred to other departments and boards.
Why do you need to bring more resources into central government?
There is a need to strengthen the centre so that government is better equipped to respond to an unprecedented set of challenges. The current proposals continue the evolution of executive government since the introduction of the Ministerial system in 1986.
What form would the proposed Cabinet Office take?
The functions of the Cabinet Office would include the Office of Human Resources; the Information Systems Division (which currently sits in the Department of Economic Development); and the Economic Affairs Division (which currently sits within the Treasury).
What will the Cabinet Office help to achieve?
The Cabinet Office would create an environment for more effective corporate policy making and ensure all corporate policy decisions are implemented.
It would help to improve:
central strategic long term planning;
central control and direction of the work of Government;
inter-departmental policy development and service delivery;
co-ordination of departmental work programmes particularly in relation to the reform agenda.
What would be the role of the new Minister for Policy and Reform?
The responsibilities of this new role would be substantial and include:
ensuring corporate working across departments,
the control and co-ordination of corporate policy,
the implementation of alternative means of service delivery arising from the Scope of Government review,
leading the Transforming Government Programmei for more efficient Government,
delivering workforce reforms including the establishment of a Public Services Commission,
making recommendations to Council of Ministers on prioritisation of legislative programme,
exception reporting of government’s quarterly performance management report,
political lead on Freedom of Information and other initiatives (subject to any matters reserved for the Chief Minister)
How will additional support at the centre of government impact on the role of the Chief Minister?
The role of the Chief Minister has evolved over recent years, with a much greater emphasis on responding to and influencing the international agenda. The Isle of Man, headed by the Chief Minister, is increasingly representing itself on the world stage. An enhanced political engagement programme and efforts to win more business from more countries adds a further international dimension to the role. On the domestic front, the island is facing some of its biggest challenges in living memory.
The introduction of a Minister for Policy and Reform would enable the Chief Minister to focus more on the overall leadership of government, representing the island externally and the government in Tynwald.
Why bring together Health and Social Care less than three years after the functions were split?
Government is facing major challenges in respect of the delivery of both health and social care and we believe that joining the two departments will enable resources to be used more efficiently to address big issues such as the ageing society, the rise of long-term medical conditions, increasing public and political expectation.
The new Department of Health and Social Care would deliver:
a continuum of care to protect the most vulnerable in our society,
cost effective joint commissioning of services,
an holistic approach to service delivery,
stronger working relationships.
What would happen to the functions of the Department of Community, Culture and Leisure in the event of it being dissolved?
The modernisation of ministerial government proposes that DCCL’s existing functions would be re-allocated as follows:
Public Transport Division to the Department of Infrastructure, pending any decisions in respect of alternative means of service delivery,
Sports (including NSC, Regional Swimming Pools, Sports Development Unit and Isle of Man Sport) and the Arts Council to the Department of Education and Children,
Leisure (including the Villa Marina/Gaiety Theatre) and the Welcome Centre to the Department of Economic Development who could work with Manx National Heritage, as appropriate, to deliver these services,
Wildlife Park to the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture.
Would there be any staff redundancies as a result of these proposals?
The intention is that redundancies would be a last resort. We understand that this will be an unsettling time for many and we are continuing to work with employees and unions. The changes will present an opportunity to embark on a phased staff reduction programme over a period of years – principally through natural wastage, including retirements and some voluntary departures. This would focus on making cost savings at senior management level, as well as within shared back office support functions, in order to protect essential front line staff.
How many jobs will be lost and how much money will be saved?
It isn’t possible to forecast the scale of savings at this time as the modernisation process is closely linked with the Scope of Government reforms which may recommend alternative means of service delivery. The overall aim is for a reduction in the size and cost of government.
What legislative changes are required to make this happen?
Subject to feedback from internal consultation, the changes will be progressed through the submission of a Transfer of Functions Order.
What is the timescale for the changes?
It is intended to submit a Transfer of Functions Order to Tynwald for approval at the January 2014 sitting, with a planned start date of 1 April 2014. There will be a pre-implementation phase of three months to finalise budgets, review management structures and roles, and to fill the new political positions.
Are any further changes in the pipeline?
It could be argued that the current departmental system works against the ambition for joined-up government. Consequently, a review will take place to see if it would be more appropriate to establish government as a single entity. Such a system may help to further reduce bureaucracy and to streamline management structures. Should it be concluded that change is appropriate, it is hoped that legislation can be introduced and the new arrangements readied for implementation prior to the next General Election.
As part of this longer journey, key players in the criminal justice system have been asked to consider options for more closely integrating the work that they do. They will be reporting to Council of Ministers by July 2014.
In addition, the new Cabinet Office will undertake a review of the current regulatory and enforcement agencies to see whether there are opportunities to modernise, streamline and improve co-operation in these areas. The Chief Minister has asked for a report on this area by June 2014.
Overall, the Council of Ministers wants to better understand whether the current departmental system is still fit for purpose. The Chief Minister will be commissioning an independent review body to look at this issue and report back to the Council of Ministers by June 2014.