Chair comments on Efficiency and Reform Group report

17 April 2013

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, comments on a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) on the Efficiency and Reform Group

Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP said:

"The Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG) has made a good start and is clearly helping government to make savings, although there is still more it needs to do.

"It estimates that in 2011-12 it successfully encouraged departments to make savings of £5.5 billion in key areas such as staffing, procurement, property and major projects. However, the ERG has been unable to quantify the extent of its contribution so we do not know how many of these savings would have been made anyway.

"Savings need to be sustainable and not just one-off cuts. Only 46% of ICT savings made in 2011-12 are likely to be repeated over multiple years. Furthermore, savings grew more slowly in 2011-12 than in the previous year. The ERG needs to up its game if it is to achieve its target of £20 billion of savings a year by 2014-15.

"There is a clear need for the ERG to address some pressing issues. At 25%, ERG’s turn-over of staff is too high. It also lacks the information it needs to monitor what departments are doing and what impact it is having compared to its costs.

"I am also concerned that the ERG has failed to provide assurances that key services won’t be cut, an issue my committee raised in 2011. ERG needs to secure sustainable savings which don’t damage services that people rely on."

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