Earlier this week the Chancellor and I announced that as part of our long-term economic plan this Government had saved an unprecedented £14.3 billion for the last financial year, against a 2009-10 baseline.
In my speech announcing the savings I thanked all the civil servants who have worked so hard to make this happen. It’s truly a remarkable amount of money and it’s a shining testimony to what we can all achieve when we work to change our approach to spending without compromising on quality.
Back in 2010 this Government inherited a situation where we were spending £4 for every £3 we took in taxes. Something had to change and we worked to deliver that from day one. The reforms we introduced are really starting to make a difference.
Thanks to your efforts we have been able to save the equivalent of nearly £850 for each working household across Britain, when compared to the spending on a 2009-10 baseline.
Saving money is never glamorous but it’s just what every family, every business, every household needs to do it tough times.
Across Government, we can now see fundamental differences in the approach towards managing spend, often with reduced budgets. Through your work we have killed the myth that you cannot get more for less. Take GOV.UK as an example. The excellent Government Digital Service has merged hundreds of government websites into our new online presence which is simpler, clearer and just better for users. GOV.UK doesn’t just save an enormous 70% of the annual costs, it also won a coveted design award beating the Shard and Olympic Cauldron.
Lots more has been going on which has required structural shifts in how we work. We have saved billions by taking a more business-like approach to working with suppliers and getting a bigger bang for our buck on contracts. Rather than spending so much money on costly consultants, we are working to grow the skills of our civil servants. And across the country we are working to find ways for officials from different departments and agencies to share offices. This musical chairs has helped us save a huge amount of money. For example, most of my officials in the Cabinet Office already share One Horse Guard’s Road with the Treasury, HMRC, DCMS and the Northern Ireland Office.
But there’s a lot more to do. Saving money, improving efficiency and driving up productivity - this is a job which will never end. And to achieve that we want to see civil servants given more responsibility. We need to develop a properly innovative culture where everyone is supported to try sensible, new ideas – even if they don’t ultimately work out.
This is tough work and I want to thank you for your contribution to delivering these savings. There can be no resting on our laurels and together we can transform government to be leaner, more efficient and more capable.
It’s an exciting challenge and one I hope to speak to you about at the upcoming Civil Service Live Events. See you there.