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Financial Management Initiative

Volume 114: debated on Wednesday 8 April 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will make a statement on the effect on his Department of the financial management initiative.

The financial management initiative covers a range of reforms aimed at obtaining the best possible return for public expenditure. The principles have been incorported into, and are increasingly indistinguishable from, my Department's drive towards more responsive management.Budgeting is being extended; increasingly officials are accountable for the resources under their control and this has led to an improved awareness of costs and value for money. Every six months divisions report to me on the cost of their operations and progress towards agreed objectives; they also set targets for the period ahead. This informs me in the discussions which I have in the public expenditure cycle and has led generally to the better use and direction of resources. Some of the improvements can be seen in the tables of indicators of output incorporated into Cm. 56. Examples of others are savings of 15 per cent. achieved by adopting new methods of distributing mail and up to 13 per cent. in respect of telephone call charges.I am taking steps to improve the quality of the information provided and wherever it is sensible and practicable to do so to achieve a more consistent approach across my multi-functional Department. Approximately 80 per cent. of the public expenditure which falls within my responsibility is made available to local authorities, district health authorities and other public bodies. I expect them also to apply the principles of the initiative. An example of better management contributing to improved value for money is the closer attention to energy efficiency measures by the National Health Service in Wales which aims to realise savings of 20 per cent. in the five-year period to 1988–89.