back to article Efficiency and Reform Group 'has saved over £3bn'

The Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG) has helped to save government £3bn-£4bn over the past few months, its lead official has told a group of MPs. Ian Watmore, the government's chief operating officer, was responding to questions at parliament's public accounts committee hearing on the efficiency landscape. He said that, while …


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  1. Northwald

    Is this a saving?

    Is "saving" the same as efficiency? That is, if I do not spend any money, am I being efficient with my money or not?

    I recall the Philip Green report that highlighted the rediculously high cost of some items being bought (same box of paper for £8 and £73, same laptop £353 and £2000).

    I wonder if the figures in this report indicates money not being spent, or being a bitter smarter.

    A beer, either drowning my sorrows or toasting their success.

  2. Is it me?

    And the suppliers

    Reduced their quality of service

  3. Bluenose

    What actually happened was

    What probably happened is that the Govt called in the big players and said, "oy you are making loads of dosh so give us some back". The big companies said "oh no we're not but as we don't want to be blackballed when we try and compete for future work here's some dosh".

    Effectively the best description of what happened is that it was a form of blackmail where the Govt told the suppliers that if they wanted more work in the future they had to pay the Govt some cash so that they could should show the media how successful they had been in their "negotiations" with the suppliers.

    Who said only Labour could do spin

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "is that it was a form of blackmail where the Govt told the suppliers that if they wanted more work ......

    No this isn't blackmail, it's called not being ripped off.

    Standard business practise, in fact sensible people do it all the time.

    The pterol sation is 5p a litre more expensive than one. I won't shop there.

    Dixons is more expensive than Amazon, I won't shop there.

    It simple economice and to slice 3 billion in few months show how shit the last goverment(s) were at getting a good deal.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      @AC 10:55

      I agree with the theory, but if you think that the numpties who agreed to the ridiculously-priced purchasing deals the last govt used are different to the numpties overseeing the probably-still-ridiculously-priced purchasing deals the current government have in place, you're deluded.

      The problem here is that government insists it knows what it's doing, but both NuLabour and the Tories have this hilarious notion that the Private Sector Knows Best and instead of bringing in people and expertise in-house to leverage savings over time, they bring in expensive contractors or "advisors" in the short term who sell them the kind of bullshit that only a total novice would believe. They then get "forced" to sign a 5-year/10-year/in-perpetuity agreement, and it's only when the invoices start rolling in that someone realises just how badly they've been shafted.

      Of course, these are the same people who sold in-perpetuity spectrum exploitation licences with no restrictions on foreign reselling, and who've allowed most UK utility providers to be privatised such that the profits from them trickle outside the country, and who in general don't seem to have much of an idea how to not get shafted by the private sector they profess to love so much, so it shouldn't really be a surprise.

      Anon 'cos I work in the public sector and frequently have to have fights with senior people in my department who continually get it into their head that they need overpriced gizmos "for work purposes". (The current fad is replacing low-end laptops with top-end iPad 2s, even though the laptops barely get used and there's no case whatsoever for needing a tablet device...)

  5. Jacqui
    Happy makes short term savings

    Beancounters save the day - hoorah! Except all that happened is that the suppliers agreed reductions in return for being able to move more jobs to india with *projected* savings of 3bn.

    This ignores the costs of the unemployed UK staff and the bleeding obvious fact that offshored contracts almost never are anywhere as cheap as promised.

    One reason is that local staff often do more than the contract states, the "hidden jobs" only rear its head once those that were doing it have gone. One local authority had moved its already crapita outsourced IT jobs to india and did the same to its telecoms support staff - shortly after the email systems died.

    Evidently because the IT contract did not include email support, telecoms staff took the job on. When they were sacked^Woutsourced, no one saw fit to ensure this was recitified and their email systems went belly up until they could convince some of the local ex-employees to come in a sort it out. Naturally they got top contract rates - basically they were paid far more than they were previously paid to do only part of thier old job :-)

    And the beancounters still insisted savings were made.

  6. Grahame 2


    I know the review included a review of all telco services.

    The number of billed services that were not being used by anyone was shocking. In one case I was told of, the rental of a PBX and phones was being paid 10 years after building had been demolished, contract index linked to inflation of course.

    Offices move, things get upgraded, but no one cancelled the old contract with the telco, and they don't tend to remind you. A big part of the re-negotiations was was getting fully itemised billing from the telcos, so that they could see what they were paying for.

  7. Graham Marsden

    I can save the Government a billion pounds easily...

    ... I'll offer to do some work for them for £2billion, then when someone objects, cut the price to £1billion.

    There you go, a billion quid saved.


  8. Anonymous Coward

    Woop de do!

    So just taking this at face value (because of course I believe every word our masters utter) it would seem that this could reasonably be translated to

    "Look. We were spending at least £3 Billion per year that we really didn't need to and now we've stopped doing so".

    It's like local government telling us how marvellous they are because this year for the first time in living memory they didn't increase council tax. Wish I could increase the prices I charge my customers by 5% or more every year while providing them with less service every year.

    Finally, while I'm on a rant, does anyone else get as ticked off as I do when the media talk about "Government Money"? The government doesn't have any money. What they have is your and my taxes!!

  9. Starkadder

    The real numbers are under the blotter

    It is not clear where the money all comes from. It may be a change to service contracts or a reduction in one time costs. We are not told. It may be a mix of the two. It is not hard to save money, even if the civil service are not up to their job. The present government have canned ID cards,

    ContactPoint, and FireControl. They sent Raytheon off with their tail between their legs over e-Borders. And all those projects carried huge start up costs plus ongoing service and maintenance. The only way to get the private sector on their side is to pay the cost cutters by results.

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