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Civil Service (Waste)

Volume 579: debated on Wednesday 30 April 2014

The Efficiency and Reform Group was set up after the 2010 general election to tackle wasteful expenditure in the public sector. We have supported Departments in achieving savings in 2010-11 of £3.75 billion, a further £5.5 billion the following year and more than £10 billion in 2012-13. In June we will announce the figures for the year just finished.

I thank the Minister for that answer and welcome the progress to date. With the stronger language requirements for visas introduced by the Home Secretary to promote integration, what scope is there to reduce the high cost of translation across the public sector?

There are some central contracts and some scope for us to do this much better, although we need to be confident about quality. Through the Crown Commercial Service we can now aggregate demand to a much greater extent, but what we do not want to do is exclude smaller translation companies from this market as they can often provide a much more cost-effective service. The issue is kept under constant review, and there is definitely scope for further savings.

9. Will the Minister tell the House what progress has been made on commercial reform in the civil service to make it more savvy in its dealings with the private sector, to get a better deal for the taxpayer? (903758)

We are reforming the way we do that. We identified a lack of commercial capability in Government and we are acting to remedy that, although there is still some way to go. The Government have been a very bad customer: we should be the best customer suppliers have, because we have scale and good credit and we pay quickly. We need to use that scale to get the best pricing, and we were not doing that. We have saved hundreds of millions of pounds by doing much better and by dealing with our biggest suppliers as a single customer, but there is much more that we still need to do.