Mayor's adviser grilled about savings

4 November 2011

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4 November 2011 | Adam Leach

The London Assembly has questioned whether Greater London Authority (GLA) bodies that cover transport, fire and rescue, policing and development are passing off internal efficiency savings as those achieved through shared services.

The concern was raised yesterday at a meeting of the Business Management and Administration Committee. The group questioned senior mayoral aides over the progress of the shared services savings plan that aims to deliver £400-450 million savings by pooling spending on areas such as IT across the functional bodies of the GLA. These include Transport for London (TfL), the Metropolitan Police Authority, Metropolitan Police Service, London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, London Fire Brigade and the London Development Agency.

Questioning Nicholas Griffin, mayoral adviser on budget and performance, James Cleverly said: “Are you confident that within the functional bodies, the phrase shared services isn’t just being used as euphemism for efficiency savings?”

Griffin said the functional groups had provided materials relating to proposed savings and his team would then define what was an efficiency saving and what was a shared services saving. He added that there were complexities to take into account. For example, he said, despite being part of TfL, London Underground has its own IT system. He told the committee that in this case, implementing a single IT system across the whole of TfL would be a “genuinely shared service”.

Later, committee member John Biggs asked whether Griffin would like to move away from the target of saving £400-450 million solely through shared services and focus on overall efficiency savings. But Griffin, who has previously said he would resign if he failed to meet the target, was adamant the savings were achievable.

“My personal belief is that procurement is where the biggest prize could be, so if we could draw together all the activity on procurement across the group and perhaps extend it out to some of the London boroughs as well, we could get a tremendous advantage,” he said.

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