As part of the government’s drive to achieve the £6.2 billion of spending cuts announced by the Chancellor this morning, a powerful new joint Treasury-Cabinet Office group will be set up to ensure savings across Whitehall and arms’ length bodies happen quickly.
The savings will be driven by the Efficiency and Reform Group, whose board will be chaired jointly by Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws and Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General Francis Maude. The group, which will be formed by pulling together existing capabilities, will have the power to make sure departments work together to tackle waste and improve accountability across a range of areas, including ICT spend, procurement, advertising and marketing spend, and civil service expenses and recruitment.
The group’s first priorities, with immediate effect, will be to:
- conduct centralised procurement for commodity goods and services to drive down prices
- implement an immediate freeze on all new ICT spend above £1 million
- review the government’s biggest projects, including ICT projects, to see where costs can be reduced or wasteful projects stopped altogether
- start renegotiating contracts with major suppliers across government to reduce costs
- freeze all new advertising and marketing spend. Only essential campaigns will be allowed
- freeze on all new consultancy spend unless it is an operational necessity. Where spend is proposed, ministerial sign-off will be required for £20,000 or above
- cut spend on civil service expenses, including a clamp down on first class travel and on the number of government cars
- freeze civil service recruitment, except in important front line and business critical areas, and significantly cut the number of temporary staff
- conduct an immediate review to create a more simplified approach to civil service pay structures and terms and conditions
- implement a programme to simplify HR functions across Whitehall and, wherever possible, eradicate duplication
- stop the signing of any new property leases or lease extensions unless they are approved centrally
Mr Maude said the group will ensure there is a stronger central push driving through the efficiency savings:
We have got to get an immediate grip on Whitehall waste if we’re going to tackle this unprecedented £156 billion deficit quickly, while protecting the quality of important front line services and getting the economy growing. Good government can cost less. It won’t do just to carry on as before. By joining forces and concentrating our efforts where the money actually gets spent, we can make sure the maximum amount gets taken out of government overheads, not front line services.
The Group will be chaired by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Minister for the Cabinet Office and will include other members with specialist commercial expertise.
Notes to editors
- The Efficiency and Reform Group will be comprised of existing civil servants from across Whitehall, and will be located within existing premises with no impact on departmental budgets.
- Departments will be expected to generally apply these approaches to the public bodies which they sponsor, although there may be some exceptions in particular circumstances.
- Freezes will apply to the 2010 to 2011 financial year.