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Prizing the public pound

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With increasing pressure on public services and net-zero targets to be met, it’s critical that any public spending delivers value to the taxpayer. The Fabian Society outlines its vision in its recent pamphlet.

Transparency in public spending has never been more important. With public services under increasing pressure, government debt rising and targets in areas such as carbon emissions to be met, any spending must be backed with evidence that it will deliver value to the taxpayer.

The Fabian Society, Britain’s oldest think tank, has been developing ideas around progressive political ideas and public policy for 140 years. Its recent pamphlet ‘Prizing the public pound’, outlines its thoughts and recommendations on how to deliver value for money to the taxpayer in the 2020s.

In it, the Fabian Society reviews the current architecture for public audit and value for money, recommending that all expenditure proposals should be assessed against its five ‘E’s of value for money:  Effectiveness, Efficiency, Equity – ensuring fair allocation of resources to meet need, Equality – pursuing both equality of opportunity and addressing all forms of inequality, and Environmental sustainability.

The pamphlet’s authors, John Tizard and David Walker, sat down with ICAEW’s Director of Public Sector and Taxation Alison Ring to discuss the recommendations within the pamphlet and the wider context in which it was written.

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Alison Ring, Director of Public Sector and Taxation, ICAEW


  • John Tizard. A strategic adviser and commentator focusing on public policy, public services, and governance. John is a former county councillor and joint council leader, and has extensive board experience in the public sector, in business, and in charity, social business and arts organisations.
  • David Walker. David is an honorary member of CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. He was Managing Director for communications and public reporting at the Audit Commission before it was disbanded. He was previously an editor of Guardian Public and has co-authored books with Polly Toynbee, including ‘The Lost Decade’ and ‘The Verdict – Did Labour Change Britain?’
  • Martin Wheatcroft. Martin is an adviser and author on public finances who works closely with the ICAEW Public Sector team. He helped write ICAEW’s response to the Fabian Society pamphlet. Martin has extensive business experience as a former Big Four auditor, a chief accountant and a financial controller in international businesses. He is the author of several of ICAEW’s Better Government Series publications, ICAEW’s chart of the week and the Simply UK Government Finances series of books.


Natalie Chisholm

Episode published: 27 October 2021
Podcast recorded: 15 October 2021

All views expressed on this podcast are those of the contributors and don’t necessarily reflect those of ICAEW or its members.

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