The UK's public sector faces a deep fiscal squeeze over the coming decade, with many government departments and public institutions facing real term funding cuts for the first time since the 1990s.

Background

No one in Whitehall has had the experience of managing a fiscal challenge of the scale now facing the UK.

Even after the recession has ended, the underlying gap between annual expenditure and income is equivalent to funding all our schools and our entire defence budget through borrowing on an on-going basis. Without careful thought and planning, decisions will become hurried and services will be at risk.

In the past, other countries developed successful approaches to dealing with situations of this nature. The Institute has drawn on the experience of countries such as Canada, which between 1994-97, eliminated its budgetary deficit of 5.3% of its GDP.

Work programme

Prior to the 2010 election, the Institute hosted a number of seminars featuring senior serving or ex-civil servants from Sweden and Canada to discuss their experience of planning for and leading major change during their countries' consolidations in the 1990s.

Following the election, the Institute has followed the course of the consolidation processes, including the impact it is having on Whitehall itself.