As the election period begins in earnest with the closure of Parliament for Easter and on into its recess prior to the election itself, some of us are too busy to really notice the step change in rhetoric. The next 4 working days are the last 4 days of the financial year for public sector agencies and in the case of some of these organisations the last 4 days to spend the annual budget. Some organisations have already closed their procurement processes down, others have allowed small concessions for budget lines to be extended but even in these organisations the work that was commissioned is being completed under great pressure to ensure that the invoices are submitted before midnight on 31st March, or earlier in some cases. The reason for this is the strange approach taken by the public sector to make their annual budget decisions, in part on the previous years expenditure. If there has been an underspend the following years budget could be cut on the assumption that the department did not need such a level of funding. One might assume that such adjustments would be based on a 2-3 average and that over spends and under spends within reasons would balance each other out. However until we can elect a Government willing and able to resolve this chaos, March will continue to be a month when many businesses will be working flat out, and April a month when things are very quiet.
Last year our Micro Enterprise turned over 4 times as much business in March as we did in April or January, we also had a good February. Our business also works for educational clients so this year we are expecting a busy April as a follow on from March and once again we had a busy February. This may seem like good news, but of course our labour planning must match a whole years business, not just a busy 3 months. Perhaps this May we will learn that a new Government is appointing some people with proper business experience to the Cabinet. Then we might see some changes. Of course this is not only a concern for business. Charities also see the impact of last minute spending sprees followed by the absence of meaningful budgets till July, by which time it is too late to recruit people until September or October. That then leaves businesses and charities trying to deliver programmes of work for a year in six months. Unfortnately Government Ministers either remain ignorant of this chaos or simply don’t care enough to bring about real change.