Brown targets cash at frontline services

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Gordon Brown exacted his price for the extra £43bn a year he has handed to Whitehall departments yesterday when he announced 160 tough new targets to ensure the money improves frontline services.

Gordon Brown exacted his price for the extra £43bn a year he has handed to Whitehall departments yesterday when he announced 160 tough new targets to ensure the money improves frontline services.

The performance targets will allow the Chancellor to impose a new squeeze on the budgets of the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence, which have long been in Treasury's sights, and will put pressure on all departments to obtain greater value for money.

Cabinet colleagues claim the public service agreements allow Mr Brown unprecedented power to interfere in the running of their departments.

Although ministers who fail to meet their targets will not face automatic budget cuts, the Treasury will consider their performance when deciding future cash allocations.

Education will have some of the most ambitious targets. New goals announced yesterday include ensuring that by 2004, some 92 per cent of 16-year-olds obtain five or more GCSEs at grades A* to G. A minimum performance target will be set to "narrow the attainment gap" between the bottom 20 per cent of pupils and the rest.

The Government will also aim to reduce the number of adults with literacy or numeracy problems by 750,000 by 2004, and to ensure a 10 per cent fall in the number of truancies from the level in 2002.

The Home Office will have to speed up the justice system and improve the satisfaction levels of victims and witnesses. Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, will aim to reduce drug reoffending by 25 per cent by 2005 and 50 per cent by 2008. The police will have to improve efficiency by at least 2 per cent each year.

A bigger squeeze will be imposed on the Ministry of Defence, which will have to make efficiency savings of 3 per cent, save £750m on equipment purchasing and dispose of assets worth £600m. The Foreign Office will have to find savings amounting to 3 per cent.

For the first time, the Treasury will extend the targets to local authorities. Seven councils have signed voluntary agreements in return for the prospect of extra cash, a scheme which could eventually apply to all town halls.

Comments