A shake-up of the Government’s back-office functions could save taxpayers up to £600m a year in administrative costs, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has claimed.
Under the Next Generation Shared Services Strategic Plan, Government departments and quangos will stop duplicating administrative offices like personnel, procurement, finance and payroll and instead share functions at five service centres.
Mr Maude said it would help deliver a “faster, smaller” civil service which does more of its work online. The change is part of a Civil Service Reform Plan, published in June, which aims to cut bureaucratic costs as Whitehall’s workforce shrinks by thousands.
The five service centres replace eight currently in operation. Three existing Government centres which were found to be working efficiently will continue, and there will be two “independent” centres, one of them run by the Department for Transport with a private sector partner.
Mr Maude said sharing services should become “the norm” for the civil service and had the potential to save £400-£600m a year.
“Sharing services simply makes sense,” said Mr Maude. “There is absolutely no need for departments and arms-length bodies to have their own back-office functions and duplicate efforts when they can be delivered more efficiently by sharing services and expertise. Plus it will save the taxpayer half a billion pounds a year.
“The world is changing and so must the civil service. We are in a global race, and are faced with rising public expectations and spending cuts to deal with the deficit. The civil service needs to do things faster, be smaller and to provide more services online.”
The head of the civil service, Sir Bob Kerslake, added: “The civil service is constantly looking to improve how it works. One way we can do this is by becoming more efficient, and sharing services is a simple and smart way of doing this.”