Approach to savings should be more businesslike, government told

28 July 2009

29 July 2009 | Jake Kanter

The government must take a more corporate approach to cutting costs and setting savings targets, according to a group of MPs.

The report, Evaluating the Efficiency Programme, by the Treasury sub-committee criticised the government for agreeing "arbitrary" savings goals and said it should consider more radical approaches to reducing costs, including efficiency "champions" and greater empowerment.

In the pre-budget report last year, chancellor Alistair Darling set out a £5 billion savings target for 2010-2011, on top of the £30 billion already outlined over the same spending review period (Web news, 24 November 2008).

The report published yesterday said the figure was not agreed in consultation with departments and "does not inspire confidence". When giving evidence to the committee, the Treasury's managing director of public services and growth, Andrew Hudson, described the £5 billion figure as an "overall judgement".

The publication also accused the government of being "illogical" in establishing systems to measure and validate savings after the launch of efficiency programmes.

The committee said savings will require a "considerable" amount of co-operation between departments and called on the government to outline practical steps for facilitating collaboration.

It urged the government to appoint "ministerial champions" for value for money within each department, and said civil servants should be empowered to identify savings opportunities.

The MPs added that "robust data collection processes" should be implemented at the start of efficiency rounds and monitored throughout programmes.


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