According to research from the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) more than two thirds of the 806 managers surveyed said they are not fully prepared to deal with the imminent cuts, with almost half (48%) having only outline plans and one in eight (15%) having made no real plans to deal with budget cuts.
Over a quarter of those surveyed said that they are already operating at full capacity, with almost nine out of ten (86%) expecting frontline services to be cut as a result of the spending review.
The survey also shows three quarters of public sector managers anticipate the imminent spending review will impact significantly on their own job, with 47% of respondents saying that impending changes will make their job harder or more stressful, and over a quarter expect their job to be under threat.
By contrast, just over one in eight (13%) said they were looking forward to some positive changes in the way they worked following the spending review. When asked what changes could be introduced to ensure that the level and/or quality of public services are maintained or not seriously reduced, a programme to encourage innovation in service delivery and better leadership at the top were seen as equally important, with outsourcing of services the least popular option.
But almost half of public sector managers are unwilling to change their terms of employment to keep their job, only 15% would accept a pay cut, with just 4% willing to accept a career break and 2% happy to consider unpaid work.
But for those who would accept changes to their working conditions, nearly a third said they would work fewer hours, go part-time or job-share and over two-thirds say staff morale is suffering in their team or department
Penny de Valk, chief executive of the ILM, said: "There is plainly no way of escaping the spectre of cuts which are now well and truly upon us. Managers will have to think strategically and make some difficult decisions if they are to achieve the savings required by the Treasury. Though a significant proportion of the managers we surveyed recognised that efficiency savings could be implemented relatively easily a high proportion feels there is little room for change.
"Public sector managers are patently concerned about the impact of these imminent cuts on service delivery, but it is welcome to see some already thinking about innovative solutions. We know from our work within the public sector that there is real demand for new thinking. It is more essential, during this time of austerity and uncertainty, that managers feel able to implement creative solutions and support one another by sharing best practice and expertise."