18 October 2010
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has today promised to leave "no stone unturned" in the hunt for more efficiency savings at the centre of Government so that the deficit is addressed while the front line is protected.
Mr Maude made the promise as he set out hundreds of millions of pounds in efficiency savings that have already been made because of actions led by the newly established Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG).
The group, which is based in the Cabinet Office, was set up to ensure that departments across Whitehall adopted a new and ambitious approach to saving money and started working together to ensure the greatest economy of scale when buying goods and services. It also aims to bring the best in private sector operations practice to government for the first time.
The group oversees information and communications technology spend, procurement, marketing and consultancy spend and Civil Service expenses and recruitment. Much of its work has never been tried by Government before, such as renegotiating contracts with major suppliers across government to reduce costs, and a freeze on all new advertising and marketing spend.
Initiatives brought in by ERG include:
Mr Maude said:
Our priority has always been to do this as fairly as possible and take cost and waste out of the centre of government so that we can protect essential jobs and services on the front line. Every pound wasted unnecessarily in Whitehall on operational overheads is a pound that can’t be spent on the services we all rely on and that is why we set up this ambitious efficiency programme.
“This is not glamorous work, but it is where the money is and what today’s figures show is that the approach taken by the Efficiency and Reform Group is working. In the run-up to the Spending Review and beyond, we will continue to leave no stone unturned in the search for waste and unnecessary low-value spending.”
In addition to today’s efficiency savings, Mr Maude confirmed the Government was looking to make radical changes to the way it provides essential services to citizens, making them easier to access and cheaper to provide.
As part of this plan, he said he would be working closely with Martha Lane Fox, the UK Digital Champion, on her proposals to improve Government’s online services. One area they will be looking at is moving to an online first model for some services.
Mr Maude added:
In an age when 96 per cent of all 25-34 years olds are internet users, just 13 per cent of our contact with citizens is currently carried out online. We have to start looking at ways we can improve the way we communicate with citizens. But, we also need to do it in a more cost-effective way than has been tried before.
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