ICAS response: Preventative spend

ICAS has responded to the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee's call for evidence on 'Preventative Spend'

30 October 2015

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Key messages

  1. We affirm the need for a preventative approach and challenge of delivering this in a constrained financial environment. There is a need for a focus on longer term solutions that are sustainable and can be supported within available resources. Reform needs to challenge the current models of delivery which are unsustainable from both a financial and resource perspective. The transformative nature and scale of reform is vast and requires clear leadership both at a national and local level to help drive forward the pace of reform.
  2. A clear, coherent and holistic strategy is required to set out the vision for a preventative approach and priorities against which we can align resources to focus and support activity as well as measure achievement of long and short term outcomes.
  3. A longer term timescale and cross-sector perspective for the strategic planning and investment cycle needs to take a far longer perspective to reflect the long term nature of reform.
  4. One of the barriers to radical public sector reform is the underlying discrepancy between the long term gains and delivery of improved public sector outcomes versus shorter term political decisions for electoral advantage. Although there is no easy answer to this, further debate could help to identify ways of narrowing the gap i.e. to align incentives and accountabilities for longer term outcomes and better manage the risks inherent in short-term decisions. Radical reform will require some difficult and unpopular decisions and a political appetite to deal with this.
  5. Resources are a key driver and closer alignment with preventative objectives would help to initiate change. This would require transitional arrangements and specific resources.
  6. Preventative spending is about investing in the future; initiatives need working capital and while there are a number of barriers to this, we believe that further revenue borrowing powers are needed to facilitate the shift away from crisis spend. Our response also considers alternative finance models, including a co-investment structure to combine local needs assessment and central funding more flexibly as well a potential streamlining of regulation to support more innovative delivery structures.
  7. Critical to the success of this as for any investment decision, is a robust business plan which has clear objectives and decision-making criteria, supported by evidence of a robust ‘return on investment’.
  8. Support for devolved decision making and public engagement in resource decisions will be necessary to effect the scale of change required.


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