Public Sector Productivity Programme

Treasury – in the House of Commons at on 7 May 2024.

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Photo of John Penrose John Penrose Conservative, Weston-Super-Mare

If he will use outcome evaluations to assess the effectiveness of the Public Sector Productivity Programme.

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Chancellor of the Exchequer

Improving public sector productivity is a major focus for this Government, which is why I announced £4.2 billion of funding to make our public services more efficient in the Budget.

Photo of John Penrose John Penrose Conservative, Weston-Super-Mare

As a former Health Secretary, my right hon. Friend will know that evidence-based medicine transformed health productivity, systematically cutting out ineffectual treatments and replacing them with ones that worked better. Using the evaluation task force and the What Works centres to do the same for other public services, including back to work programmes, prisoner rehabilitation and early interventions for supported families, could be the productivity-improving silver bullet that he needs, so can I urge him to beat a path to their door?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Chancellor of the Exchequer

My hon. Friend is right to talk about the What Works programme, which has delivered more than 500 trials and is recognised internationally. There are some very good example in the NHS of what is working, including the NHS app. That is now used by 75% of NHS patients—including 17,000 over-90s, so let no one assume that older people are not internet savvy.

Photo of Clive Efford Clive Efford Labour, Eltham

Some £8.7 billion was wasted on defective personal protective equipment during the covid crisis, much of it paid to people associated with the Conservative party. People did not have to be Conservative party members to benefit from the fast track, but it did not half help. What is the Chancellor doing to get public money back from those people who sold that defective equipment to the NHS, and does it not just show that we cannot trust the Tories with public money?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Chancellor of the Exchequer

What it shows is that we took very difficult decisions in the pandemic to speed up access to PPE for frontline workers, who were literally dying at the time—but there should be no hiding place whatsoever for anyone who commits fraud on taxpayers, which is why there have been over 100 arrests.

Photo of Darren Jones Darren Jones Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

The only productivity improvement we have seen from this Government is the awarding of wasteful contracts. On top of all the PPE waste that my hon. Friend Clive Efford referred to, there are still £1 billion-worth of unresolved PPE contracts that this Government awarded, but that have not been delivered on. Only one company, PPE Medpro, is facing legal action. Why are the Government not taking legal action against the other companies that have not delivered on their contract with members of the public?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Chancellor of the Exchequer

Let me be clear: there is absolutely no hiding place for anyone, whether they are connected to the Conservative party, the Labour Party or any other party. If they have defrauded the taxpayer, we will go after them.

Photo of Darren Jones Darren Jones Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

The Chancellor says that he is making progress, and that there is no hiding place, but that money belongs to our public services. The Government know that the contracts have not been delivered on, but they will not reveal the names of the companies and the contracts that have not been delivered on. If there is no hiding place, why would the Chancellor not name them today?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Chancellor of the Exchequer

Because we are taking legal action, and as the hon. Gentleman knows full well, when we take legal action, that information belongs to the police.