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Procurement (Savings)

Volume 577: debated on Wednesday 12 March 2014

5. What assessment he has made of the level of savings resulting from procurement and commercial reform across central Government since May 2010; and if he will make a statement. (902982)

Through a range of very overdue commercial and procurement reforms across central Government, the efficiency and reform group set up by the Minister for the Cabinet Office has delivered savings of £3.75 billion in 2010-11, a further £5.5 billion in 2011-12 and an additional £10 billion in 2012-13.

What a shame the Labour party did not do that, and did not mend the roof while the sun was shining. Nevertheless, there are still things that we need to do. My hon. Friend will know that there have been problems at the Ministry of Justice with G4S and Serco. What lessons has he learned from that, to prevent such problems from happening again?

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. It is worth reminding the House that the Labour Front Bencher who had the opportunity to realise those savings but failed to deliver them now leads the party. In answer to my hon. Friend’s question, the review that we launched after the Ministry of Justice found irregularities with contracts let under the previous Labour Government underscored the need to strengthen the commercial capability of the civil service, which was long overdue.

In Rotherham, small and medium-sized charities are struggling to keep afloat because of moves towards larger-scale procurement. Does the Minister agree that, while such procurement can make savings, it can also cause suffering?

This Government are extremely committed to trying to open up the public service so that more, and more diverse, organisations can help us to deliver better value for the taxpayer. That explicitly includes charities, social enterprises and public service mutuals. Yesterday, we announced a publication that updates the House on our progress. We are making progress. We are not yet where I want to be, as this involves a quite profound cultural change, but we are committed to seeing this through.