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Chief Minister announces move to smaller, stronger Government

Monday, 2 December 2013

Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK has today (Monday 2 December 2013) unveiled radical proposals to streamline Government and strengthen its ability to make the changes needed to safeguard the Island’s future.

The plan aims to cut bureaucracy by reducing the number of separate Government organisations, with the loss of two Departments, one Statutory Board and one Office. The Council of Ministers would shrink to include eight Ministers instead of nine. 

To achieve a more joined-up approach to the challenges facing the Island, the central co-ordination of policies would be reinforced through the creation of a Cabinet Office and a new Minister for Policy and Reform. 

The proposals are contained in a draft Council of Ministers report issued today for the consideration of Tynwald Members. The proposals are due to go to the January Tynwald for approval, to take effect from April next year. 

Key measures include:

  • Dissolving the Department of Community, Culture and Leisure, with the transfer of its component parts to other Departments in preparation for the outcome of the Scope review, which has been looking at alternative ways to deliver services. 
  • Reuniting Health and Social Care, recognising the interdependence of these two areas and their common issues, particularly the needs of an ageing population. 
  • Merging the Manx Electricity Authority and Water and Sewerage Authority to form a Manx Utilities Authority, achieving the ability to manage outstanding debt. 
  • Combining key central functions in a new Cabinet Office, taking in the Chief Secretary’s Office, Office of Human Resources, Information Systems Division, and Economic Affairs. 
  • Creating a new Minister for Policy and Reform, leading on the co-ordination of policy across Government, workforce reforms, change and efficiency programmes including Scope, and prioritisation of legislation. The Minister would chair the Civil Service Commission, soon to become the Public Services Commission (the new employing body for the majority of the public service) and the Business Change Steering Group. 

The Chief Minister explained:

‘The Council of Ministers’ Agenda for Change document presented to Tynwald in January this year included a commitment to make Government smaller, simpler and less bureaucratic. 

‘That is what the public expects and that is what we are now proposing, starting at the top with the Council of Ministers but also creating new opportunities to streamline senior management and reduce staff numbers. 

‘It is hoped that most of the staff reductions can be managed through natural wastage or voluntary schemes, but there is a risk of redundancy in a minority of cases. We are committed to working closely with the unions to ensure that everyone affected is treated fairly.’ 

Mr Bell continued:

‘These reforms are also about strengthening the centre of Government so that it can drive coherent change in response to the unprecedented challenges facing our Island. The need for joined-up working to replace the silo mentality has been confirmed during the Scope review this year and we cannot make real progress without a unified approach.’   

He added: ‘These proposed changes represent the first part of a much longer journey.  I have asked the key players in the criminal justice system to consider options for more closely integrating the work that they do. They will be reporting to the Council of Ministers by July 2014. In addition, the new Cabinet Office will undertake a review of the current regulatory and enforcement agencies to see whether there are opportunities to modernise, streamline and improve co-operation in these areas. I have asked for a report on this area by June 2014.  

‘More than this, however, both I and the Council of Ministers want to better understand whether the current Departmental System is still fit for purpose. I will be commissioning an independent review body to look at this issue and they will report back to the Council of Ministers by June 2014.’

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