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Back Office: Central Government

Volume 504: debated on Wednesday 27 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the reasons for the cost of the finance function of his Department's core headquarters referred to in the publication Benchmarking the Back Office: Central Government; and if he will make a statement. (312681)

The cost of the finance function for the Ministry of Justice's headquarters is made up of:

the costs of finance teams that provide support to a number of the MOJ's Directorates, including the corporate centre which provides support and challenge to the entire Department;

the costs for transaction processing for the former Department for Constitutional Affairs parts of the Department (including HM Courts Service and the Tribunal Service) that are funded and managed through a central contract.

The cost differences reflected in the publication ‘Benchmarking the Back Office: Central Government’ may have a number of causes including, as the report notes: “different bodies in central Government have very different business models to deliver their different services”. I believe that, given the MOJ's business model, this level of headquarters expenditure is reasonable in supporting a wider business area and providing support and challenge to help the board and Ministers to achieve outcomes efficiently.

The MOJ supports the work on benchmarking, and is working with other Government Departments to help us to better understand the variations in costs these data illustrate and to drive further efficiencies across the MOJ through the shared services programme started in July 2009. The MOJ also has plans, annexed to ‘Putting the Frontline First’, to improve the efficiency of both its finance and human resources functions across its headquarters, agencies and non-departmental public bodies. These include moving all human resources and finance transaction processing into a single shared service.