A major reorganisation of the government structure is a ‘radical step forward’, insisted the Chief Minister.
But Allan Bell said the proposed reforms announced on Monday - which include reducing the number of government departments from nine to seven and cutting the number of Ministers by one - is just phase one, with more changes to be brought in over the next few months.
He said the proposals aimed to break away ‘once and for all’ from the ‘silo mentality’ in government which he said had been a major hindrance to the urgent process of modernisation.
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.
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. He insisted this would be a ‘seemless transtion’.
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.
Mr Bell said: ‘This is quite a radical step forward. There are a number of quite major changes but this will only be phase one of a number of changes expected over the next few months.’
He said the second phase could involve making government a single legal entity, rather than the 24 separate entities as present, and review of the justice system which could result in the creation of a Ministry of Justice.
Mr Bell said the only positive change resulting from the reorganisation under his predecessor Tony Brown was the creation of the Department of Economic Development. ‘Other changes had limited material impact on the performance of government,’ he said.
He said he wasn’t picking on any one department. There was a lack of joined up thinking. He said Tynwald members had been generally supportive at Monday’s presentation. ‘I don’t want members feeling they are being bounced into the new structure,’ he said.
Mr Bell said it wasn’t possible to forecast the scale of savings as the changes were closely linked to scope of government reforms which may recommend alternative ways of delivering services - such as contracting out to the private sector and corporatisation.
He insisted redundancies would be a last resort but recognised this was an unsettling time for staff.
With DCCL’s demise, the NSC and regional swimming pools as well as the Arts Council will go to the Department of Education. the Villa Marina and Gaiety will move to DED, the Wildlife Park to DEFA and public transport will move to Department of Infrastructure.