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 Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
- 2 Greggs Google fail: bakery falls afoul of search engine's algorithms with 'unofficial' logo
- 3 Is this the end of apps? New research says a third of us don't bother to download
- 4 Here’s the damning letter Robin Williams wrote to his Mrs Doubtfire co-star's principal after they expelled her
- 5 Ferguson protests: 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein ‘arrested’ by police during St Louis demonstrations
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
World peace? These are the only 11 countries in the world that are actually free from conflict
£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior DBA (SQ...
£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...
£60000 - £90000 per annum + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Global leading Energy Tra...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...