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9 August 2012 | Adam Leach
The government wants to save £20 billion a year by 2015 by keeping tight control on waste, fraud and inefficiency, according to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.
Today, the Cabinet Office announced government has delivered £5.5 billion in savings over the past year. But Maude has already set out his ambition to almost quadruple that annual figure.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph today, Maude said: “By the end of this parliament, we want to be saving £20 billion a year. It won’t be easy. Much of it will come from work being done for the first time across government to tackle fraud, error and debt. But it is the right thing to do and I’m determined to get it done.”
To deliver on his ambition, Maude will tighten and build on the controls and policies he has implemented that cover government spend. Last year’s savings included £1 billion through a moratorium on consultancy spend and extending existing contracts, £390 million savings by freezing marketing spend and £200 million through better use of government property. Nearly £500 million was delivered by bulk buying goods and services across government departments.
But he admitted these have not always gone down well with officials. “Within the first days of government, we introduced tough temporary spending controls. These limited expenditure on IT contracts, property, marketing, temporary staff and consultancy. These controls haven’t always been popular across Whitehall, but they are working and that’s why I’ve announced that they will be a permanent feature of good governance.”
Recently, Maude also announced plans to downsize the Civil Service significantly in order to cut the taxpayer-funded wage bill. During his time in post, headcount has dropped by 50,000.
Much of the work to deliver savings has been carried out by the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform Group. In May, Ian Watmore, permanent secretary and head of the efficiency and reform group, resigned from his post. Yesterday, it was announced Richard Heaton is to be the new permanent secretary alongside his current role of first parliamentary counsel at the Cabinet Office.