This blog was first published on the Government Finance Function website.
The Green Book is a great tool for better decision-making, not a compliance code. Yet we all often hear the term “Green Book compliant” business cases as though it is a formal tick book exercise. But that was never the vision for its authors, for whom the purpose of the Green Book is to ensure the effective management and use of resources. All in all, it’s an aid to scoping, appraising and planning successfully delivery of better policies, programme and projects, that will lead to better outcomes for people, business and place.
The newly established Green Book User Group (GBUG) aims to overcome this perception of compliance and focus on how to use it as a tool to create better interventions for UK citizens, as well as to build skills across as wide a platform of users as possible.
I am chairing the GBUG steering group, made up of local champions of the Green Book from around the UK as well as HM Treasury. Our initial focus is on improving the strategic and economic case elements at the heart of the business case, and championing the effective understanding and use, of the Green Book. We want to create a network that can bring a fresh perspective to the application of the process, demystify and myth bust the use of the Green Book. We also aim to provide a space for inspiration, guidance and sharing best practice through the creation of an active, vibrant network with a range of events and activities that promote the use of the Green Book. It will help people create better projects, myth bust and make expertise accessible whilst also creating relationships across organisations to help us solve problems together.
We will be promoting better business case development by both the developer of the case and those reviewing it. Driving greater understanding of the empirical evidence base the needs of places and policy areas and how we can create the best solutions facing the UK today.
Changes to the Green Book will not alone change the way it is implemented and interpreted but a network of empowered, knowledgeable people can. Evidencing, exploring and choosing the right options to fix an issue, aiming for consistent decision making and fair processes is key. Ensuring this capacity is accessible and available at all levels of government is crucial to solving the unprecedented issues we face in a post covid world.
Our first tasks will be to build this network, develop our understanding of the needs of users, building on the work done by Treasury to support the new release of the Green Book. We will continue to champion those needs to Treasury, including looking for opportunities for cross-department collaboration and approaches to levelling up and place-based interventions.
We aim for this network to build a programme of quarterly events, a bank of case studies for us to share experiences, quarterly newsletters and to establish a network of local champions.
After all, government intervention is aimed at improving opportunities for individuals, making places worth living and investing in, and that has never been more important than now. The Green Book can have a role in developing our understanding, challenging our perceptions, shedding light on options and stress testing our decisions. Now, more than ever, we need a network that can help us do that, enhancing skills and capacity and expertise and leadership, as evidence suggests those places and people who don’t have that get left behind.
2020 Green Book Launch Event on Thursday 3rd December, 2-3pm.
We would like you to invite you to the 2020 Green Book Launch Event on Thursday 2-3pm, held on Teams Live. There will be a panel discussion on Why Good Appraisal Matters for Policy-Making, featuring:
- Cat Little, DG Public Spending, HMT & Head of the Govt Finance Function
- Ruth Kelly, Chief Analyst, NAO
- Amanda Rowlatt, Chief Analyst, DfT
- Rebecca Riley, Head of Research, WMCA and Chair of the Green Book User Group
- Professor Henry Overman, LSE and Head of What Works Centre for Local Growth,
- Charles Roxburgh, 2nd Permanent Secretary, HM Treasury
Following the launch event, we will be starting out on a virtual roadshow. This will provide an opportunity to discuss in more detail the changes to the Green Book and how to put it into practice. If you are interested in a roadshow session in your organisation, group, or area, please Rebecca Riley, copying in Aaron.Mile@hmtreasury.gov.uk
The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of City-REDI or the University of Birmingham.