27 April 2009 | Jake Kanter
The Conservative party is pledging to create a "government of thrift" if elected.
Speaking yesterday at the Tories' Spring Forum in Cheltenham, leader David Cameron said he wanted to end 12 years of "wasteful spending under Labour" and make it a contractual obligation for civil servants to save money.
Cameron said the government must deliver "more for less" as it entered an "age of austerity" during the economic downturn.
He said "extravagant waste" - such as the Department for Transport spending £90,000 on plant pots - must be stopped and ministers should be sacked for doing "less with more" with their budgets. Equally, Cameron said, ministers should be rewarded for ensuring their department saves money.
He reiterated the Conservative party's plans to save £600 million by radically reforming government IT contracting.
Cameron said a web-based health care record system for NHS patients, such as Google Health, could be used instead of the £12 billion National Programme for IT, making "big savings".
"We need a massive culture change at every level of government, to make the state careful, not casual, with public money," he said.
Last week's Budget, delivered by Chancellor Alistair Darling, set a £15 billion efficiency savings target for the public sector following the release of the government's year-long Operational Efficiency Programme.
In the area of collaborative procurement, led by Invensys chairman Martin Jay, it was found that £6.1 billion of savings a year were possible through harnessing the public sector's collective buying power. It also made recommendations to save on IT, back office and property spending.