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Adapt or risk losing good finance leads, CIPFA warns

Staff training must adapt to meet the expectations of new people taking on support roles, the leader of finance heads has warned, as he launched a scholarship scheme.
Published - 05/11/2020 By - Chris Smith

People joining force finance teams must be enabled to develop their skills and experience or they will go to other organisations, the chief executive of CIPFA has warned.

Rob Whiteman, head of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, shared his advice with the announcement of 20 free scholarships for its professional qualification to promising finance talent in police forces across the country.

CIPFA is the professional body for people in public finance representing and training them in best practice for roles in every part of government from councils right up to the Treasury covering investment, legal and budget work.

Eighty per cent of UK police forces and Police and Crime Commissioners are members.

Forces that are members of the institute’s Achieving Financial Excellence in Policing (AFEP) are being asked to put forward candidates to be selected for 20 scholarships to start in March 2021.

The scheme is designed to develop new employees that have joined finance teams and are looking to develop a career within the policing sector.

Financial forecasting, pensions, project cost control and procurement are among the skills needed by forces both for long-term stability and dealing with the short-term cost pressures created by the COVID-19 crisis.

Forces face an uncertain future following the Chancellor’s decision to scrap the Comprehensive Spending Review, the continuation of one year funding settlements and signs that there will be further cuts to budgets despite the demands from the Uplift recruitment drive.

CIPFA warned that the focus on meeting the Prime Minister’s target of signing up 20,000 frontline officers could divert attention from the development of the non-policing roles that will be crucial in ensuring forces have the resources to support them.

Mr Whiteman said: “­We are living in a time of unprecedented challenges. Change is significant and happening at pace. The days of public sector organisations being slow to shift their talent strategies have to be behind us if we are to keep up. Younger cohorts are entering the workforce with quite different expectations and motivations from previous generations.

“Through the AFEP programme, we have committed to investing in fit-for-the-future people strategies in policing that empower finance to take control of their professional development. This investment will help the sector attract, engage and retain the high-performing finance teams that will be crucial to their future success.” 

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