On 16 January 2012, I announced the significant operating cost reductions we have made in running the Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA) since May 2010. The previous government had ministerial cars for most ministers, costing £6.8 million in 2009 to 2010. We are now spending just £3.8 million or 55% of that, and the number of ministers requiring cars has reduced by around half.
Today (27 February 2012), I am announcing our plans for the coming year in which we expect to deliver further operating cost savings of around one-third. This is part of our ongoing commitment to driving efficiency and improving value for money and transparency for tax payers. It will also allow us to start to reduce the overhead costs associated with the service.
To reflect the government’s approach to providing vehicles for ministers’ official travel while maintaining adequate levels of security, I am taking this opportunity to identify a better taxpayer value service, reduce the vehicle fleet and maximise driver and vehicle utilisation. This approach will enable us to re-shape the agency and its estate to deliver a leaner and substantially smaller organisation.
We are working closely with departments to deliver the main elements of this efficiency and reform programme which are:
- the phased closure of the government mail despatch service by the end of the year; I expect current users to make alternative, cost effective arrangements with their existing service providers or to utilise existing government frameworks to secure new services from the private sector
- a 50% reduction in the GCDA fleet with a new approach that gives greater control over management of the resource to departments
- a review of estate options
- a review of the GCDA’s agency status and whether, in the light of the much smaller scale of the operation, that continues to offer the best value for money
The GCDA is working with departments to help manage the transition to new arrangements. Subject to those discussions, I expect the changes to the car service to be fully operational by April this year and the transition to new mail arrangements to be completed by the end of the year.