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CBI urges public sector to engage creatively with cuts agenda

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The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) called today for a “radical rethink” of the way public services are delivered, to maintain front-line services at a time of austerity.

John Cridland, CBI director-general, has urged public service managers to make sure they are targeting 'easy wins', such as sharing more services to fill the resourcing gaps left by the cuts.

He said: "Making cuts is rarely easy for anybody, whether in the public, private or voluntary sectors. It is usually painful and there are often casualties. But saying change is impossible shouldn't be the default response.

"What we need, and what will fill the gap between resources and expectations, is the re-engineering of our public services."

Cridland also called on public sector employees to drive the process of re-engineering. He added: "We don't want resistance to change and cultural inertia preventing necessary reforms.

"Fear of change is understandable. But employees need to appreciate that long-term security comes from working for an organisation whose products and services are wanted, needed and affordable. To achieve this, we need reform - liberation from constraining structures and a focus on results rather than processes.

"Everyone involved with public services, from politicians and permanent secretaries through to management teams and people on the shop floor need to challenge the view that there's no possible scope to use resources better. They need to dismiss the notion that a service can't be changed because 'it has always been done this way'. "If an activity is important and it works, then find ways to keep it. If it isn't - or it doesn't - then make the case and stop it. If someone else can do it better, or cheaper, or both, then make the change."