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Media update: 20 February 2013

FDA/ARC mentions

20 February

FDA general secretary Dave Penman was interviewed by the Government Computing Network about the challenges of 'digital by default', universal credit and the politicisation of the civil service.

Speaking about the 'digital by default' strategy, Penman said: "The nature of government is such that it is complex and difficult and things often take longer than people expect."

He explained that the issue is whether 'digital by default' is an invest-to-save programme, or one that needs additional resources to deliver services in a better way: "It's not an 'either or', and this goes back to, I think, one of the difficulties we have with all governments - but particularly this government given the scale of the efficiency savings they're looking for - that they need to match commitments with resources.

"So if they want to do something new and it is going to cost money, then they need to stop doing something else. And that is what governments are not very good at."

Read the full interview:
Digital delivery: a question of resources
Government Computing Network

20 February

ARC's press release of yesterday - Tackling tax avoidance: Public Accounts Committee needs to recognise the need for more HMRC resource and proper reward for staff, says ARC - was reported by Public Servant on publicservice.co.uk, and by Public Finance.

Public Servant quoted ARC President Gareth Hills stating that a relatively small scale investment of £120m into HMRC would recoup currently lost tax of £3.7bn: "The scale of the overall budget deficit of £126bn and the tax gap of £32bn are such that the government needs to put significant investment into HMRC.

"By investing in key personnel in HMRC the government will be guaranteed a significant return - one it could use to draw down the deficit, to avoid further austerity measures, or to fund economic recovery and growth. Now is the time for it to abandon caution, the time for it to be bold, and the time for it to back a cast-iron winner."

Read the full articles:
''Name and shame the £5bn tax avoiders''
Public Servant

Tax avoidance advisers should be 'named and shamed', say MPs
Public Finance

14 February

FDA general secretary Dave Penman was quoted in The Scotsman, responding to the SNP government's estimate that Scotland will become a new state within 17 months of a 'Yes' vote in the independence referendum.

In the news story - entitled 'March 2016 target 'too early' say top mandarins' - Penman said: "The timescale seems rather swift and there are things that will require agreement between the UK government and the Scottish government.

"But it's also being done with very reduced resources because the Scottish Government is facing the same cuts as everyone else and that's a challenge.

it's a challenge and an issue that needs to be addressed. A lot of this work is policy work, but it's not in areas that they're funded to do. The UK government is not going to say 'Here's extra money to work for the SNP on independence."   

The full article is unavailable online.

General interest

20 February

New breed of experts takes on Whitehall mandarins
The Times
(Please note that this article is behind a paywall)

Leading Articles: Good Advice
The Times
(Please note that this article is behind a paywall)

Trust in civil servants rising; politicians least trusted group
Civil Service World

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