‘Tight control from the centre’ key to further savings, says Maude

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
9 December 2014

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has said “tight control from the centre” will continue as the government attempts to make £10 billion additional efficiency savings.

In a speech at the Royal Society of Arts this week, he said five themes had underpinned government reforms so far, one of which was “tight control”.

“There is no good reason for departments to pay different prices for the same goods and services or to refuse to share buildings. Treasury and Cabinet Office need to work ever more closely together as the government’s corporate centre,” said Maude.

Referring to the £10 billion additional efficiency savings by 2017-18, and £20 billion by 2019-20 outlined by the chancellor in the Autumn statement last week, Maude said it would require “very substantial commitment" from ministers and civil service officials to achieve.

“Savings of this scale will be challenging. But it’s also an opportunity to transform Whitehall, to apply new technologies, and to redesign services around the needs of users, not bureaucrats,” he said.

He added, tight control had been complemented by “looser control over delivery” – allowing public sector professionals to do their jobs in the way they know best.

In addition he said the government would have to look whether it would be best placed to deliver services in house over the next five years.

“We will need to open up the public sector in areas ranging from operational delivery to ‘back office’ services. The alternative may not always be conventional outsourcing, as it was in the past. Instead we are supporting alternative delivery models. The old binary choice, between services delivered in-house by monolithic public sector monopolies and red-blooded commercial privatisation or outsourcing, has gone for ever.”

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