Briefing by the Prime Minister's spokesman on the multilateral aid review, oil leak and the Efficiency Board.
Multilateral Aid Review
Asked if there was any chance that development funding budgets would be cut, the Prime Minister’s Spokeswoman (PMS) said that the International Development Secretary wanted to ensure, inline with general government policy, that taxpayers’ money would be spent in the most value for money way, and that it remained inline with our poverty reduction objectives. The PMS went on to say that she would not preclude the review, but said that we wanted to ensure that money was being spent in the way it should be.
Put that some aid was still going to countries like China and India, the PMS said that the International Development Secretary was writing to the multilateral organisations to ask for help in this review by ensuring that not only were our objectives being met but that organisations could demonstrate the delivery aid was having a positive effect.
Asked if the government’s aim was to put more money into multilateral aid, the PMS said that the aim was to ensure that our poverty reduction money was being spent in order to achieve objectives.
Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned with President Obama’s rhetoric regarding the Chief Executive of BP and the knock on affect that could have for the company, the PMS said that clearly the impact of the oil leak in the US was of key concern to President Obama, and the Prime Minister would not want to comment on the President’s comments specifically. It was for the company to decide how to deal with this, and the Prime Minister hoped that it would be addressed as soon as possible.
Asked if there had been any contact between US and UK officials regarding the rhetoric coming from the US, the PMS said that we had regular contact with our colleagues in the White House.
Asked if the Efficiency Board’s main current purpose was to chase the £6.5 billion cuts in spending, the PMS said that the board had a coordinating role; it was there to support and work with government departments to find savings. The Chancellor said yesterday that ‘the new Efficiency and Reform Group at the heart of government will support departments to deliver savings in specific areas, including renegotiating contracts, maximising collective buying power and using benchmarking to improve performance.’ We were looking at a broad range of areas in order to tackle waste and target inefficiency.
Asked what the board’s priorities were, the PMS said that the board’s priorities were to conduct centralised procurement; implement an immediate freeze on all new ICT spend above £1 million; review the government’s biggest projects; start renegotiating contracts with major suppliers; freeze all new advertising and marketing spend; and freeze all new consultancy spend, unless an operational necessity. It would work with departments to see where collective savings could be found.
Asked if the board would look at the implication of job losses, the PMS said that the loss of jobs was an issue for the Government as a whole, but this was about looking at contracts/projects that had already been committed to, and processes within government where savings could be made.
Asked if it was possible for contracts that had already been implemented to be stopped in their tracks, the PMS said that she wouldn’t generalise about all contracts, as each one would have to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. The government had been clear that where there were contracts or projects that did not meet the government’s priorities and deliver value for money, then we would look at trying to renegotiate them.