Central government efficiency


In May 2010, the UK faced one of the biggest budget deficits in the EU. We believe that significant savings can be achieved if government departments work more efficiently and effectively while also making sure we have a positive effect on economic growth.


We set up the Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG) in the Cabinet Office to work with HM Treasury to help make all government departments more efficient and more accountable for their efficiency and performance.

We are working to make sure that all departments in government are:

  • taking action to stop wasteful spending
  • considering their effect on growth in the UK economy
  • working to the same plan
  • held accountable for their efficiency through an effective management information and controls system
  • supported by clear commercial legal advice
  • reducing loss that comes from fraud, error and debt

This delivered £10 billion of savings in 2012 to 2013.

Strategy and departmental engagement

We make sure that ERG has a consistent approach across all of our work to support efficiency in departments and make them work more effectively as a whole. We are:

  • working with all department to develop a single plan for government efficiency and reform
  • making sure that the ERG and HM Treasury can work effectively to coordinate departments’ efforts
  • identifying additional sources of savings
  • developing the competence and capability in commercial law to support ERG programmes


We have introduced controls to help make sure departments spend money more wisely, gain value for money when funding projects, and implement reforms which can improve services for the public.

We run 10 controls that aim to make significant savings in areas such as advertising, consultancy, and information and communications technology (ICT).


We want to make sure that our efficiency and reform plans contribute to growth in the UK economy. ERG is:

Fraud, error, debt and grants

£37 billion is lost each year to fraud and error in the public sector. £4.7 billion of this is lost to fraud and error outside of tax and benefits. A further £7 to £8 billion is lost as a result of overdue debt.

To deal with this problem, the Fraud, Error and Debt Taskforce is:

Management information

We are working to increase the use and quality of management information that government departments and their Arm’s Length Bodies (ALBs) use to manage their performance.

We will:

  • support central government to effectively analyse and use operational and financial data
  • create a reporting tool so that management information can be used more effectively for decision making and to inform permanent secretaries and other senior officials’ appraisals during 2013
  • manage the production of Quarterly Data Summaries (QDS) by all departments and their ALBs and publish this data in a way that is meaningful to the public by mid-2013
  • gain a fuller understanding of each department’s performance against important indicators of efficiency during 2013, by analysing data gathered in the Quarterly Data Summaries
  • create a quality assurance framework for government data that includes internal and external assurance, and start a new way of assuring and monitoring the quality of data across government by 2014
  • create a Data Gateway in 2013, that coordinates data requests from central government to government departments, reducing the data burden placed on departments in order to avoid too many requests being sent in an uncoordinated way


As part of the government’s work to reduce central government spending by £80 billion by 2015, we created the Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG) in June 2010. The purpose of the group is to carry out a well-planned range of actions to reduce cost and reform public services.

Most of these actions involve spending that is common to all or most departments, and is where savings can be maximised by working together.

We expect ERG to achieve savings of at least £20 billion in the financial year 2014 to 2015.