Additional £3 billion savings aim

7 December 2009
7 December 2009 | Allie Anderson

The UK government has identified a further £3 billion of efficiency savings, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said.

Ahead of Wednesday’s pre-budget report, Brown said the public sector will go further than ever before to make cutbacks of £12 billion over the next four years. This is £3 billion more than identified in the Budget in April.

Central government alone will be expected to save £1.3 billion, meaning some spending programmes will need to be scaled back, delayed or abandoned.

The much-criticised National Programme for IT is one of the projects to be reassessed. Spend on consultants will be halved and marketing reduced by a quarter, delivering savings of £650 million.

Speaking in London today, Brown said: “In line with the way people carefully and wisely manage their household budgets, every penny spent by Whitehall must count.”

He added: “The proposals we are setting out in this plan - which is just one element of our efforts to reduce the deficit - will go further than we have ever gone before in streamlining central government.

“We have already promised savings of £35 billion a year by 2011 on top of the £26.5 billion a year already delivered through the Gershon review. But by identifying new ways of working - and being prepared to make the tough choices - we can deliver in excess of another £12 billion in efficiency savings over the next four years.”

Brown said technological advances could help to reduce the cost of public services, for example, using text messages to remind people of appointments with their GP. In addition, the salaries of senior civil servants will be cut by 20 per cent over the next three years, saving £100 million.

Speaking yesterday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, chancellor Alistair Darling said he would scale back the National Programme for IT in order to slash public spending. The project to digitise patient records has been beleaguered by setbacks and its cost has spiralled to more than £12 billion.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley described the programme as “another government IT procurement disaster”. He said: “After seven years, Labour have finally acknowledged what we've said for years: that the procurement for NHS IT was costing billions and not delivering.”

Exact details of changes to the programme will be announced later this week.
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