11 December 2007 | Paul Snell
Both Parliament and the general public must be confident that efficiency savings achieved in the comprehensive spending review do not damage public services, according to a group of MPs.
A report by the Treasury select committee described public sector efficiency targets set out by the chancellor in October as "stretching and highly ambitious". The public sector has been tasked with saving £30 billion by 2011 (News, 18 October).
"In view of the unresolved issues concerning the effects of the current Gershon efficiency programme on service delivery, it is important there is Parliamentary and public confidence in claims about the effects of efficiency savings," it said.
MPs added that efficiency savings should only be considered as such if it could be demonstrated that the standard of public services had not been affected.
The committee said it had previously been concerned about a lack of measurable and externally verifiable evidence that efficiency savings had been delivered and secured.
It added it wanted to examine departmental agreements, which will include procurement savings targets, on how efficiency targets will be met. It said clear baselines needed to be established so claims could be verified.