The Coalition government has announced that it has managed to eradicate far more wasteful spending across Whitehall than it originally envisaged. The strict approach to public sector spending has seen the government save an additional £5.5 billion for the taxpayer over the course of the last year according to Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude. The staggering savings were driven predominantly by the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG) by applying strict spending controls to reduce expenditure by all government departments on IT contracts, property, marketing, temporary contracts and consultancy. The savings are in addition to the unprecedented savings of £3.75 billion on government ICT and infrastructure achieved through the ICT Procurement Strategy.
The core objectives of the Procurement Strategy were to reduce waste and project failure and to stimulate economic growth, by creating a common ICT infrastructure and using ICT to enable and deliver change and strengthening governance. The government has argued since coming to power that all these changes were crucial if the UK’s ICT structure was to be cost-effective and fit for purpose in the Twenty First Century.
The Cabinet Office has claimed that the latest independently audited additional ICT and procurement savings are the equivalent this year alone to:
- approximately £500 per working household in Britain;
- the salaries of around 250,000 junior nurses; or
- the cost of around 1.6 million primary school places.
Flushed with the success of such record savings, the Cabinet Office has announced that it will continue to pursue its ICT Procurement Strategy and spending controls across all Whitehall departments in order to ensure that it delivers better value for money for taxpayers. Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said:
“There’s never an excuse for wasting taxpayers’ money in the way it was in the past, but given the size of the deficit this Government inherited and the on-going tough economic climate, we were determined to cut the fat from Whitehall. Because our controls on spending are working well and saving unprecedented amounts of money, I’m determined they will be a permanent feature of good governance.”
“Last year, this Government beat its own prediction and saved a staggering £5.5 billion from departmental expenditure, on top of the £3.75 billion [ICT and procurement] savings from our first year in office. The real question is: why were such savings never made before and why was so much taxpayers’ money squandered on things like unnecessary consultancy, wasteful marketing and underused property leases?”
“In 2010 we set up an Efficiency and Reform Group in the Cabinet Office to beef up government’s operational centre and to ensure that Whitehall operated in a more business-like fashion. It’s working well, but we are determined to go even further, because when it comes to spending other people’s money we must always strive to find more efficient and better ways of providing public services.”