MPs' 'grave concerns' over efficiency savings
Thursday 04 November 2010
MPs today expressed "grave concerns" about the ability of Whitehall departments to deliver efficiency savings without cutting frontline services.
The influential cross-party Public Accounts Committee (PAC) questioned whether, given their poor performance in the past, departments were "ready" for the scale of the challenge ahead.
Of £35 billion of "value for money" savings demanded by the former Labour government in 2007, only £15 billion had been reported by March this year, it said.
In addition, the National Audit Office found that only 38% of the efficiencies reported by departments had been genuinely sustainable efficiency savings.
In a report today the PAC said: "The inability of departments to improve value for money in a time of increasing budgets casts doubts on government's ability to reduce costs now while minimising the impact on front-line services."
The committee raised particular concern over the Treasury's hands-off role in the delivery of efficiency savings.
"We are concerned at the implication from Treasury that it will simply reduce departments' budgets and then walk away from responsibility for the delivery of the level of savings required across government," it said.
It added: "The current financial environment is fundamentally different from the position when the (Value for Money) Programme was launched in 2007, with substantial cash reductions required over the next four years by most departments.
"The scale of savings needed will require much more radical action, but the results from this programme left us with grave concerns as to whether departments are ready to implement effectively a programme of value-for-money savings.
"There is a serious risk that departments will rely solely on cutting front-line services to reduce costs, without adequately exploring the potential to reduce costs through other value-for-money improvements."
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said the Government would "leave no stone unturned" in its bid to cut waste and inefficiency and that progress was already under way.
"We said that our priority would be to take the cost out of the centre of Government so we could protect the front line and, in just a few months, that is exactly what we have done," he said.
"Already, actions led by the Efficiency and Reform Group have resulted in hundreds of millions of pounds of demonstrable efficiency savings - and this is just the beginning.
"These are savings we invite the PAC to hold us to account for.
"As we move forward with our ambitious efficiency programme, we expect to build significantly on the £402 million already saved following a review of the Government's largest projects, the £18 million already saved in rent alone by vacating empty buildings and the estimated £800 million we expect to save just this year from renegotiating contracts with some of the Government's largest suppliers."
Chancellor George Osborne will this morning defend his recent spending review, including cuts of £81 billion over four years, when he appears before MPs on the Treasury Select Committee.
- 1 Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer released: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 50 books for students to read this summer: From Ernest Hemingway to Gillian Flynn
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israeli targeting policy under scrutiny after shellfire hits a mother and child, a school full of refugees and a doctor’s home
Peaches Geldof cause of death: Socialite had taken fatal dose of heroin after years of addiction, inquest concludes
Peaches Geldof: Her final day – and her fatal decision
Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Iraq crisis: Isis orders Mosul shop keepers to cover mannequins
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...
£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...
£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...