Efficiency savings target surpassed

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The Scottish Government is leading the way on delivering a more efficient public sector, outstripping its target for the second year running, according to a report published today.

The Efficient Government Outturn Report confirms the Scottish public sector delivered cash savings of £1,470 million in 2009-10, exceeding the target of £1,069 million.

At 5.5 per cent of the 2007-08 DEL baseline, the savings are considerably above the target for 4 per cent cash savings for the year.

Efficiencies deliver the same services at better value for the taxpayer. The report also identifies examples of more efficient working within the Scottish Government in line with the recommendations of July’s Independent Budget Review.

These include:

  • The Scottish Government has invested £11 million in its ePlanning initiative to drive efficiency savings for partner authorities and users of more than £50 million over ten years
  • Reduced spend on publishing by 51 per cent between 2006-7 and 2009-10 – providing savings of £4.8 million.
  • Portfolios have reported savings of over £312 million through improved procurement, including greater use of national collaborative contracts whilst also delivering on key sustainability objectives. The national IT hardware contracts have saved over £24 million since 2008 and national electricity contracts are delivering combined benefits of approximately £10 million per annum. That means 98 per cent of the public sector – or 24,000 buildings across Scotland – are supplied by centrally agreed national electricity contracts.
  • The Scottish Government Administration budget for 2010-11 has been reduced by £14 million (5 per cent) and there is an efficient government target of £4.8 million per annum for cost reductions in the Administration budget.
  • The budget for centrally-funded marketing in 2010-11 has been reduced by £5 million (around 50 per cent)
  • Scottish Government travel costs have reduced year on year. Travel costs for 2009-10 are almost £1 million lower than the equivalent figure in 2008-09
  • For the second year running, Scottish Ministers have again decided to freeze their pay in 2010-11, releasing about £25,000 for front-line services. Senior civil servants’ pay is being frozen in 2010-11, releasing about £400,000 for other uses

Finance Secretary John Swinney said:

“One of this Government’s budget priorities as we deal with the damaging Westminster cuts is protecting high quality, frontline services. Efficiencies deliver exactly the same high quality services at better value and I am delighted that money already freed up is being reinvested across the public sector

“The public sector saved over £1,470 million last year through improving procurement, sharing services and better use of resources – savings significantly higher than the original target and another year of exceptional performance.

“This is all part of an ongoing, stringent process to ensure we continue to not just match, but exceed our targets. The examples published today of more efficient working, in line with the recommendations of July’s Independent Budget Review, are real evidence of that.

“For example we have invested £11 million in the ePlanning initiative, which is driving efficiency savings for partner authorities and users of more than £50 million over 10 years. We have reduced spend on publishing by 51 per cent between 2006-07 and 2009-10 – providing savings of £4.8 million – and portfolios have reported savings of more than £312 million through improved procurement

“Next week the UK Government will publish its Comprehensive Spending Review, which will no doubt have serious implications for the Scottish budget. Today’s figures should leave little doubt that we are already pursuing savings across the board both rigorously and effectively – and will continue to do so. The UK Government must not misrepresent simple budget cuts as efficiencies, as has happened in the past.

“There is a clear alternative to the Westminster cuts agenda. Independence and financial responsibility, giving the Scottish Parliament control of its own finances, instead of receiving an annual block grant from Westminster, would allow us the ability to grow our economy, protect vital services and help create a wealthier and fairer society.”