Departmental Efficiency Savings

Cabinet Office and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd November 2016.

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Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Conservative, Bexhill and Battle 12:00 am, 2nd November 2016

What steps he is taking to help Government Departments deliver efficiency savings.

Photo of Ben Gummer Ben Gummer The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

The Government are striving towards their manifesto commitment to achieve £20 billion of annual efficiency savings by 2020. Cabinet Office functions are supporting Departments by providing expert support and advice in all areas, including commercial property, infrastructure, fraud and error, and debt. In addition, I will be leading a review with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to see whether further savings are possible over that period.

Photo of Huw Merriman Huw Merriman Conservative, Bexhill and Battle

May I add my congratulations as well? I thank the Minister for his answer. How much did the Government deliver in efficiency savings over the last term and how much is to come?

Photo of Ben Gummer Ben Gummer The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I thank my hon. Friend and you, Mr Speaker.

We saved £18.6 billion in the previous Parliament. We hope to do better than that over this Parliament. We have made a good start with more than £1.5 billion saved by transforming how Government works, but there is more to do. It is a hard task, but we will complete it.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

May I first congratulate you, Mr Speaker, on your energy efficiency saving this morning on the bicycle in Portcullis House for the poppy appeal? Is it possible for hon. Members and the wider public to track savings in various Departments to see the practical benefits of those savings?

Photo of Ben Gummer Ben Gummer The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

The hon. Gentleman makes a sensible suggestion. As we evolve the single departmental plans, I hope to be able make the savings in individual Departments far more transparent. He is right to touch on that subject; it is something that I want to do more with.

Photo of Alan Mak Alan Mak Conservative, Havant

Government efficiency savings can be achieved through greater use of new technology, such as GOV.UK Notify. Will the Minister encourage its greater use by Whitehall Departments?

Photo of Ben Gummer Ben Gummer The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

GOV.UK Notify is another excellent Government Digital Service product. We are putting more money into the GDS, which we are using more across Government. I hope that that will be one of many applications brought forward as a result of its success.

Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Scottish National Party, Kilmarnock and Loudoun

Given that the cost of special advisers has almost doubled in 10 years and that the Tory Government are spending more on special advisers than the new Labour Government, would not dealing with that be a simple cost-cutting measure?

Photo of Ben Gummer Ben Gummer The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

On the contrary, we have kept the cost of special advisers under review and fairly flat. The list of responsibilities has been published recently and the hon. Gentleman will see that that cost is fairly constant.