The impact of the global economic downturn could be felt for as long as 15 years in some areas of the public sector, according to delegates at an international public finance conference.
Imminent government cutbacks in the public sector were blamed for the gloomy outlook. The ACCA’s head of public sector Gillian Fawcett explained: “There is a strong belief in the public sector that it will feel the economic pain longer than the private sector given the government’s need to make savings to pay for measures to beat the recession”.
Organised by the ACCA in partnership with the Office for Public Management and Transparency, the Leadership in Public Finance conference brought together delegates from the UK, mainland Europe, China and Africa.
Voting at the conference, almost 30% of delegates thought the worst of the economic downturn was behind us, but the majority (50%) disagreed.
When asked how long the downturn would continue to impact public services, 40% said five years, almost 35% thought it would be ten years, while 15% believed repercussions could be seen for the next 15 years or more.
“The fact that these cutbacks come at a time when expectations are growing about the quality of public services will create even greater difficulties for staff trying to provide those services on tighter budgets and careful thought needs to be given on how savings might be made with the public sector”, said Fawcett.
Public confidence in these services was deemed to be an all-time low, according to 80% of delegates and worryingly, 65% said fraud and corruption is on the increase in the sector.