Mayor's adviser stakes job on £150m procurement savings

8 July 2011

8 July 2011 | Adam Leach

A senior aide to mayor Boris Johnson told the London Assembly he will resign if he fails to achieve £150 million annual savings through shared services.

Nicholas Griffin, mayoral adviser on budgets and performance who is in charge of the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) shared services reforms, told the assembly’s budget and performance committee that he stood by his target to cut £450 million costs by the end of 2014. He told them: “The savings are achievable.”

Assembly member Len Duvall then asked: “If you fail to meet the target, will you resign from your position?” Griffin replied: “Yes, it is my job to deliver these savings, so of course I will.”

Sir Edward Lister, the mayor’s chief of staff then stepped in to assure the assembly that if the savings could not be achieved through shared services they would be made by cutting the budgets of functional bodies – such as the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) and Transport for London (TfL). “It will be our job to drill through their (functional bodies) business plans (to outline their savings estimates) and budgets to assess whether they are realistic.”

SM reported in April that the GLA had extended its deadline for achieving the savings through shared services by a year after the assembly cast doubt over the figures.

During this week’s hearing Griffin and Lister highlighted a number of areas where the GLA will look to make savings. These included moves to leverage the combined buying power of the MPA, TfL and other functional bodies to drive down the cost of a number of deals such as an ICT contract. They will also hold meetingswith senior staff from the functional bodies this month to hammer home the importance of shared services and the importance of management making it an absolute priority across departments. Griffin said: “This is exactly the approach the private sector would take.”

Lister added that they would pay particular attention to vacancies across departments and look to cut roles that don’t need to be filled. He suggested this was part of an overall strategy to “grab low hanging fruit”.

Meanwhile it was announced that the London Borough of Camden would work with the GLA to identify how to make the most of joint buying power. Griffin said while he was doubtful all the capital’s boroughs would follow suit, he hoped more would. He said the combined power of all the boroughs would bring around another £9 billion savings to the table.

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