Government claims businesses helped it save £5.5bn last year

Julian Harris
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BIG names from the business world assisted the government in finding over £5.5bn in efficiency savings during the last fiscal year, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude revealed this morning.

The coalition claims it has cut £9.25bn from the last two years of central government budgets, and hit out at Labour leader Ed Miliband for failing to rein in spending while he was in government.

“There’s no reason why Miliband, when he was sitting in my chair, couldn’t have done this – but he didn’t. It depends on there being a minister who cares about it,” Maude said. Labour retaliated: “For all their talk of savings, this Tory-led government’s failures are costing this country dear,” said shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett.

Miliband spent 13 months at the Cabinet Office during the previous Labour administration’s term.

Announcing the efficiency savings, Maude paid homage to business leaders who are helping the government along the way.

“We have a lot of useful input from very senior business people on the Efficiency and Reform Board,” he said, naming Sir Philip Green, Lord Browne, Sir Peter Gershon, Martin Read, Dame Lucy Neville-Rolfe and Martha Lane Fox.

Green found some departments were spending seven times as much as others on printer cartridges, Maude cited as one example. Green also advised Whitehall on leveraging its size and quality of credit to secure better purchasing contracts.

Bulk-buying, along with cutting consultancy, marketing and property spend, drove the savings.