Topshop boss finds waste in Whitehall

THE government is wasting staggering sums of money by failing to take advantage of its size and credit rating to get the best deals from suppliers, Topshop tycoon Sir Philip Green said yesterday.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who commissioned the report, said it “made for pretty chilling reading”, while ministers said the report showed that greater efficiency could soften the impact of cuts.

Green, whose Arcadia Group owns the Topshop clothing chain, was asked to study government efficiency.

He focused on procurement of goods and services like computers, travel and office supplies and the management of government property.

“The conclusion of this review is clear: credit rating and scale in virtually every department has not been used to make government spending efficient,” said Green. “There is no reason why government should not be as efficient as any good business.”

Green said he was not going to place a total on the potential savings, but set out examples of tens of millions of pounds squandered through poor management of the central government’s property portfolio.

“I think from this report it is clear that the prize for the taxpayer is too big and significant not to chase,” he said.

Looking at the example of fixed line-telecoms, Green said that centralised purchasing could potentially save 30-40 per cent on an overall bill estimated at £2bn a year.

“The scale of the waste uncovered by Sir Philip and his team is staggering,” said cabinet minister Francis Maude, who is leading the drive to find efficiency savings.