Government must end 'phoney efficiency', say Lib Dems

15 September 2009
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16 September 2009

There is room for "major improvement" in UK public sector procurement, according to the Liberal Democrat party.

In a report out this week, the party's economic spokesman Vince Cable (pictured) said although greater professionalism and more centralisation exists in public sector purchasing, there remains "grounds for scepticism" over announced efficiency savings.

"The National Audit Office has been highly sceptical of the claims and its analysis of the £20 billion per annum efficiency gains claimed by the government in recent years (mainly through computerisation and better procurement and headcount reductions), suggests that evidence can be found for only a quarter of these claimed improvements," Cable said.

He said the Liberal Democrats would introduce "radical" spending reforms, including scrapping projects such as the identity card scheme and the NHS National Programme for IT. It follows a similar announcement made by the Conservatives this month.

Cable added there is "staggering waste" in defence procurement with billions spent on weapons systems that "arrive late, over budget and are of minimal operational value".

The party wants to end Ministry of Defence (MoD) purchasing programmes for the Eurofighter and Nimrod MRA4, helping to save billions. MoD procurement is also "massively over staffed", Cable argued in the report.

Meanwhile, in a speech to the Trades Union Congress yesterday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Labour will "cut costs, cut inefficiencies, cut unnecessary programmes and cut lower-priority budgets".


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