Financial Management Skills critical for Public Sector Budgets

Public sector budgets are facing the most serious challenges for decades. Now, more than ever, it is critical that organisations and individuals have the financial management skills to ensure effective budgetary control.

We can help with our courses, books, and online resources.

Our virtual half day course provides all the basic underpinning knowledge for effective budgeting, monitoring and control. Also, the online courses cover a range of much needed core skills in finance for the public sector, along with online competency assessments.

Managing the Devolved Budget is just one of the range of public sector management books. These are well known for being easy to read and full of useful information for day to day financial budgetary control and contain self development activities.

HB Publications and Training International continues to develop new, interesting and dynamic ways to enhance financial management skills in the public sector. Many of our courses have CPD accreditation, and free CPD certificates are available.

We are currently producing a new eBook on how to implement robust financial management in public sector organisations to create more agility and value for money. For more information on this contact us.


Financial Management and Budgeting for the Public Sector

osoyoos spirit ridge meeting 04 e1506374814255

Half Day Online Live Course

This financial management and budgeting course is aimed at managers and those working in the public and non-profit sectors.  Whilst they may be non-financial professionals they would benefit from an understanding of finance. This programme covers financial terminology; the key financial statements; the income and expenditure account and the balance sheet. Public and non-profit sector organisations have to ensure they are viable, and the principles of accounting assist managers understand their organisation’s financial position. It covers budgeting, budget monitoring and budgetary control to enable participants to develop budgets that are meaningful and deliver the organisation’s objectives. This is delivered as a  One Day Classroom class or Half Day Online Live course, which attracts CPD certification.


Programme Objectives 

  •  improve the financial competence of learners in the area of financial accounting.
  •  enhance both the underpinning knowledge of the subject and the ability to use financial information in the workplace.
  •  prepare, monitor and manage budgets
  •  advance the participants skills and abilities, and increase their effectiveness in their current or future job roles.
  •  support the continuing development of management skills within the public and non-profit sectors with a view to maximising value for money from limited resources.

Programme Content

  • the importance of keeping financial records and prepare financial statements
  • financial terminology
  • budget setting, developing budgets that are meaningful and can deliver services
  • budget monitoring, including variance analysis
  • the importance of budgetary control
  • developing financial forecasts and projecting outturns
  • financial management, using financial management reports

Previous Course attendees have said:

“The course helped me to have a better understanding of budgeting principles and financial management. I also feel more confident to ask questions about management accounts, particularly as I have been equipped with improved skills to analyse and look beyond the figures in the reports. The course was delivered at a good pace and I liked the fact that we looked at the published accounts from my own company which really helped put the learning principles in to practice and therefore improved my understanding.” Head of Case Management, Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal

“I enjoyed the course and it was very helpful. I have been able to bring back a number of recommendations from the course and improve our budget monitoring, helping to make our programme more transparent and offer greater value for money for the tax payer.” Compliance Executive, Skills Development Scotland

“The course was excellent and pitched at the right level to reflect my public sector role and experience. There was ample space for dialogue and discussion and it enabled me to develop clear actions to take forward. I would strongly recommend the course to any managers who want to understand how to take a more proactive approach to budget setting and management in senior public sector contexts.” Transportation Services Group Manager, East Riding of Yorkshire Council

About the Trainers: Lascelles Hussey and Jennifer Bean

They are Chartered Accountants, and hold Masters in Business Administration. They are the Directors of HB Publications and Training International and have over 30 years’ experience in developing and delivering financial training programmes to the public sector. They are the authors of the “Essential Skills for the Public Sector” series of books which includes “Managing the Devolved Budget”.

They look forward to sharing their skills and expertise on this financial management course.

This course will include:

  • Illustrations/Case Studies/Practice Exercises
  • Trainer-led PowerPoint presentations

Next Dates:

Half day virtual Course

Dates:                     26th October 2022, 1st December 2022

Time:                      10.00 a.m – 1.00 p.m

Price:                      £250 plus VAT


Get Your Business and Finances Back on Track

article image

Here’s How (by Kelli Brewer)

Is it possible to create a business after a financial loss or company failure? Absolutely! Not everyone succeeds the first time around, and mistakes and failures can be steps on the way to a solid and thriving business. The key is to learn from past errors. You don’t want to wallow in them or let them define you — but neither should you pretend they didn’t happen. With the right approach and attitude, you may even find that your past setbacks have strengthened you as a leader and entrepreneur.

Clean up any leftover messes.

If past financial difficulties have left lingering effects in the form of unsustainable debt or bad credit, get this taken care of before you proceed with your launch. Consider consolidating your debt, if possible, but remember that taking out a consolidation loan can adversely affect your credit — at least, initially. So, if you already have credit issues, consider other debt reduction strategies, such as paying off loans with the highest interest first. Getting rid of older or outstanding debt can also help your credit. Go over your expenses and see where they can be reduced, or if you are spending more than you need to on unnecessary items or services.

Make a point of learning from your mistakes.

Do a thorough scan of your past efforts, both in your personal life and your business, so you have a clear sense of why exactly things went wrong. Was it an unforeseen disaster? A regrettable choice you made? Poor advice from a colleague? Or perhaps, a mix of different factors? Do your best to pinpoint why your efforts were not successful and why you experienced loss.

Then, ask yourself what you could have done differently. Perhaps you could have budgeted more carefully or gotten better insurance. Or maybe, it was something as simple as failing to trust your gut. Identify your strengths and weaknesses so you have an objective understanding of how to do better. Better yet, invest in comprehensive finance training from HB Publications and Training International to help you develop solid management skills.

Take what you have learned and put it into action.

Record both what you could have done differently and what you did correctly. Keeping this in mind, write up your business plan. A business plan will serve as a blueprint for your business and guide you as you put it all together. It also functions as proof that your startup will be viable, which is especially important if you want to secure funding. Lenders and investors who may look askance at you due to past setbacks or errors may view you more positively if you can demonstrate that you not only have planned methodically but have addressed potential weaknesses, as well.

Make your life easier with helpful apps and software.

If you don’t feel financially ready to hire full-time employees, or even freelancers, cut down your work time by relying on tech to assist you during these early stages of your startup. There are apps that can help you stay organized, software to help with money management, and tools to help you set up meetings and stay connected.

If you do go ahead and hire team members, make sure you have a good payroll system so you don’t waste time and energy staying on top of this potentially headache-inducing aspect of business ownership. Find a platform that offers payroll processing from mobile so you can accurately calculate wages and deductions and file taxes error-free, even away from your desk. Being able to run reports, create payroll reminders, and deposit funds to your staff’s bank accounts on the fly are compelling features, too.

Starting a business is overwhelming at the best of times. But it is also exciting and an opportunity to put your talents into action. Focus on the positive and seek help when you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you feel you could use additional training in financial management, HB Publications and Training International offers courses and coaching that can help you.

Article written by Kelli Brewer of

Image via Pixabay


Basic Maths and Statistics

Basic Maths and Statistics - online assessment

Half Day Online Live Course.

This basic maths and statistics course is aimed at anyone working in the public and non-profit sectors who wishes to become more confident with numbers and key calculations.

A Popular Course

The programme covers basic mathematical terms; use of calculators; fractions; percentages; averages; statistics; and more. It is not unusual for public and non-profit sector organisations to provide figures in relation to performance indicators. These usually include statistics on trends, ratios, comparisons, etc. Many of their stakeholders require this information. Often presentations need to be made in the form of tables and charts. The ability to provide this information in a interesting way is a useful skill to have.

Therefore, participants can hope to learn basic mathematical processes to provide and to analyse data that is given to them. Basic maths and statistics is underpinning knowledge that is transferable to any organisation and job role.


Programme Content

  • Basic mathematical terms
  • Using a calculator
  • Fractions and percentages
  • Central tendency (averages)
  • Collecting and analysing data
  • Making presentations

About the Trainers: Lascelles Hussey and Jennifer Bean

They are Chartered Accountants, and hold Masters in Business Administration. As Directors of HB Publications and Training International, they have over 30 years’ experience in developing and delivering financial training programmes to the public sector. Being the authors of the “Essential Skills for the Public Sector” series of books which includes “Basic Financial Skills for the public sector”demonstrates their expertise and knowledge.

They look forward to sharing their skills and expertise on this financial management course.

This course will include:

  • Illustrations/Case Studies/Practice Exercises
  • Trainer-led PowerPoint presentations

Next Date:           Available on request

Time:                     10.00am to 1.00pm 

Price:                     £175 plus VAT


Fraud Awareness for the Public and Non Profit Sectors

Fraud Awareness and Bribery Act

Half Day Online Live Course

Being aware of the potential for fraud, and having knowledge of the bribery act, money laundering, fraud response plans etc. is extremely beneficial. It is relevant to all staff within an organisation and useful underpinning knowledge when applying for jobs or promotions. Great for interview preparation and enhancing CVs.

All organisations need to ensure their staff have an awareness of fraud and the Bribery Act. Acquiring this knowledge is very useful and is transferable. We would recommend the course to individuals and organisations that may have several staff who need this knowledge.


Programme Content

  • Definitions of fraud
  • The fraud triangle
  • Internal and external fraud
  • Bribery Act
  • Money Laundering
  • Criminal Finances Act
  • Fraud response plans
  • Whistle blowing
  • Consequences of fraud

A Half Day Live Online course which may save money, reduce the potential for fraud, and meet the requirement of organisations to ensure all staff have this awareness. Everyone should undertake this training.

This course will include:

Case Studies and Exercises

Trainer-led PowerPoint presentations

Next Date:   Available on request

Time:            10.00am – 1.00pm

Price:           £175 plus VAT



Financial Accounting Techniques - online assessment


We specialise in finance training courses for the public and non profit sector.


This includes our CPD open courses run regularly each month on budgeting and financial management; our bespoke courses for individual organisations including local authorities, universities, health and housing organisations and government agencies; and our online courses.


Many of our finance training courses are on the REED COURSES website. Visit the site to find out more details of each of the courses listed.


These are the latest courses we have available being delivered in the next few months:


Financial Management and Budgeting for the Public Sector

Budgeting for the Public and Non Profit Sector Online

Fraud Awareness and Bribery Act

Basic Maths and Statistics

We are always adding to our range of courses which include Financial Awareness, Fraud Awareness and Bribery Act, Basic Maths and Statistics, Financial Accounting, and many more.

Managing finance is so important to the public and non profit sectors that all staff should have training.

We are happy to discuss individual or organisational training requirements without obligation – contact us.

The 5 Step Budgetary Control Process

budget v actual computer

The 5 Step Budgetary Control Process

To ensure effective budgetary control, budgets must be effectively monitored and managed. Although the difference between monitoring and managing budgets is not clearly defined, there are certain characteristics that set them apart.

The two can be broadly distinguished as follows:


Monitoring budgets Managing budgets
Checking accuracy of actual income and expenditure reported; comparing “actuals” with budgets; calculating variances; identifying trends; highlighting any variations to the budget owner Taking the necessary action, based on the monitoring results, to ensure the budget remains within control.


The budgetary control process ensures funds are being utilised in accordance with the required level and quality of output from the allocated resources.

The process of controlling budgets can be broken down into several steps:

  • Establishing actual position
  • Comparing actual with budget
  • Calculating variances
  • Establishing reasons for variances
  • Taking action to exert control

Step 1 – Establish Actual Position

All organisations have some form of an accounting system which records their income and expenditure. Depending on the system, budgets will be identified by some form of budget code. Income and expenditure is then recorded against the budget code. This enables budget holders to identify their actual budget position at any point in time.

This information is normally provided in the financial management report. The style and content of the report will vary from one organisation to another and will be dependent on the financial system used.

To establish the actual position, the budget holder will need to examine and understand the financial information available. They will need to know how current the information is and adjust it for any outstanding transactions. These may include debtors and creditors. The budget holder will also need to know if any part of their budget has been “committed” – i.e. if goods and services have been ordered but not yet received.

Therefore, depending on the organisation, establishing the actual position may require information from several different sources.

Step 2 – Compare Actual with Budget

After completing Step 1, the information gathered needs be compared to the budgeted figures set at the beginning of the financial year. This comparison should be simple if the actual income and expenditure headings match those that were originally set.

The difference between the actual income and expenditure and the budgeted income and expenditure is called a “variance”. Variance analysis is an important technique in the budgetary control process.

Variance analysis is discussed in detail in some of our other resources, such as our book “Managing the Devolved Budget”. We also have a very good online course on the UDEMY platform called “Managing Budgets in the Public and Non Profit Sector” which explains variances clearly.

Step 3 – Calculating Variances

In the context of budgetary control, the term variance refers to the difference between actual and budget (planned) income and expenditure. An example of a variance is shown as follows:

Month 6
Budget heading Budget to date

(Expected spend)

Actual to date

(Actual spend)












The above example shows that by month six the budgeted expenditure on salaries was set at £120,000. However, the actual spending on salaries in those six months totalled £132,000. The difference between these two figures is £12,000. This represents the variance from the budget. In this case the variance is negative. The brackets represent over spending.

The “budget to date” column shows the amount of budget that should have been spent by month 6. Ideally, the budget would be “profiled” to reflect the pattern of expenditure over the year. Therefore, when the actual expenditure for that period is compared with the budget, the true variance can be calculated.

There are other variance calculations methods that can be used in assisting the budget holder to control the budget. As mentioned in Step 2, we have other resources that discuss this topic in further detail.

Step 4 – Establish Reasons for Variances

There are several reasons that can account for differences found between the budgeted and actual expenditure. The reasons for all variances needs to be identified. This process is critical to effective budgetary control, as the budget holder needs to know when it is appropriate to take corrective action. Variances can be both positive and negative, reflecting excess spending or under spending, or over/under performance on income. All require investigation.

The reasons for variances may include:

Error Incorrect figures entered on the accounting system
Delays Delays in entering information on the accounting system
Profiling Often incorrect budget profiles are entered, which bear no relevance to the pattern of actual expenditure and income (e.g. no account taken of seasonal fluctuations)
Poor budgeting Little consideration given to initial budget preparation
Unplanned changes For example, increases and decreases in demand for services, or introduction of new legislation

Step 5 – Take Action

Budgets can only be controlled if corrective action is taken in response to the variances. Sometimes the explanation for the variance results in no action being required. For example, timing differences. This is where the variance will diminish over time as the actual income and expenditure figures  naturally match up with the budget. Variances that arise because of fundamental changes, such as an increase in demand for a service, require action. This is necessary to regain budgetary control.

Examples of the type of action that can be implemented are given below:

  • Reduce or halt expenditure in areas where expenditure is controllable
  • Increase income
  • Make virements (moving money from one budget to another)
  • Use contingency funds
  • Delay activities
  • Redefine objectives
  • Redefine eligibility criteria
  • Change the nature of the service and how it is delivered
  • Cease or reduce services

What Next?

To effectively control the budget, it is necessary to remain focused on the future position. The calculation of the “outturn” becomes an important process as it reflects the projected financial position at the end of the financial year.

The projected outturn should be calculated on a consistent basis. This is because assumptions about changes to the budgeted income and expenditure during the year can change. It should also consider trends, known events, fixed/uncontrollable expenditure, budget profiles, supply and demand.

Learn more about how to monitor and manage budgets by reading our books or attending one of our courses. For further details visit our website

Become Interview Ready

Become interview ready for success

Become interview ready with our range of services. If you are looking for a job in the public sector or not for profit sector, it is important to prepare for interviews and have the right skill set on your CV. We offer assessments and learning materials for some of the essential and desirable skill areas needed.

Assess your skills and depending on your level, you can improve them with the supporting learning resources. When you complete the assessment you will immediately receive a feedback report.

Topics include:

Basic Maths and Statistics; Budget Setting; Budget Management and Control; Fraud Awareness and Bribery Act; Financial Strategy; Financial Accounting Techniques; and Business Planning

Our assessments have been used world wide to measure and improve skills. Individuals use them to enhance their job prospects and CVs, and to assist in becoming interview ready. Employers use them to ensure prospective staff have the level of competency required for the role.

All assessments are £9.99 each and can be purchased from this website. They are also available to purchase through the Reed website. Contact us for more information or view our YouTube Video.

Recruiting Finance Staff for the Public Sector



Recruiting finance staff for the public sector is our area of expertise. This cost effective service is ideal for recruiting finance staff at any level from officers to Director positions. We work with organisations in both the public and non profit sectors, including recruitment agencies. Our services include reviewing potential candidates CVs, designing interview questions, and if required participating in the recruitment panel. The service includes using our own online financial competency assessment system. This system can be tailored to meet the needs of specific job descriptions, for all levels of finance posts. Using our services can save money lost when recruiting the wrong person for the job.

We are now offering a fixed fee cost effective service package which includes:

  • Review of CVs to provide a first shortlist
  • Objective assessment of core skills and knowledge, using our online system
  • Bespoke competency assessment to match job description
  • Shortlisting of candidates for interview after the assessment results
  • Client summary identifying key questions to incorporate during the interview


Using experts when recruiting finance staff adds value to the recruitment process. We have subject matter expertise and experience as the directors are Chartered Accountants with over 25 years experience. Whilst a recruitment agency may find the candidates, we can help with the shortlisting stage which can be very time-consuming and costly. The service offers fairness and transparency which is a key objective for public sector and non profit organisations.

This package is particularly useful for organisations undertaking in-house recruitment, saving the HR department’s time and increasing the efficiency of selecting key finance personnel. This cost effective service is ideal for those wishing to control recruitment budgets. It is also available to recruitment agencies who do not have the in-house subject matter expertise to accurately evaluate CVs,  and objectively assess those applying to senior finance posts.

Please contact us to discuss or to purchase the above package.

Develop your financial skills! Take our free online finance skills assessment

budget v actual computer

Develop your financial skills by taking our free online assessment.

This assessment will identify whether or not you need to develop your financial skills further.

The assessment is a mixture of multiple choice and multiple selection questions. It is an ideal tool to assess your financial competency and identify whether or not you need to undertake further training.

You will have immediate access to a feedback report with scores for your knowledge and practical application.

If you score over 85% overall, you will be awarded a free certificate. CPD points will be awarded if you also purchase one of our books.

Take the assessment now!

Find out more