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Work of the Department

Volume 667: debated on Monday 4 November 2019

The Cabinet Office sits at the heart of Government, overseeing the delivery of the Prime Minister’s priorities and policies, and ensuring that taxpayers’ money is focused on high-quality public services. The Government need to do more, and better, for less, and we are achieving this with new ways of working. Procurement has undergone significant reform since the collapse of Carillion, the construction company, in 2018.

Between 2010 and 2015, the Cabinet Office helped drive Government efficiencies of £52 billion. Its work to cut costs and make savings, while supporting Departments to operate more effectively, has continued at pace across digital, procurement, fraud and beyond. At the same time, the Cabinet Office has focused on improving infrastructure delivery, maintaining the integrity of the union and co-ordinating national security. It has also launched significant new initiatives, including improved cyber-security, the Office for Veterans’ Affairs and the Geospatial Commission.

Value for taxpayers through outsourcing and commercial policy reform

Government Departments are working more closely with industry on quality public services and value for money, driving a reform agenda from the “Outsourcing Playbook” of guidelines, rules and principles launched in February 2019. This complements existing compulsory guidance, such as HM Treasury’s Green and Orange Books.

It also builds on our investment since 2010 in a stronger functional model, which has released significant cash and operational benefits through robust central leadership. In all, 14 Government functions across the civil service affect every civil servant and every part of Government. Each function sets strategies for efficiency and effectiveness, driving continuous improvement and leading to better quality services for citizens.

We estimate that from 2016-17, at least £2.5 billion in commercial benefits has been achieved by the central commercial team, working with Departments. In addition, we estimate that central procurement expertise and frameworks have delivered around £2 billion of benefits.

Our debt function, and its innovative debt market integrator policy—which provides additional capacity and capability—has collected at least £400 million between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Our fraud and error function established the world’s first profession for counter fraud. It has identified counter fraud and error savings of at least £300 milion across Government since 2017 and helped save at least £200 million via national fraud initiatives. It promotes the UK as a world leader in public sector counter fraud, well-positioned to share international best practice and contribute to the global fight against fraud and corruption.

The grants management function has developed the Government grants information system—the most comprehensive picture of the grants landscape published by Government online. Across Government it has helped managers to make more effective grants and has enabled the identification of inefficiencies and fraud, delivering value for money on taxpayers’ spending.

Cutting property costs from the central Government estate

The Government are also transforming their use of land and property. In 2017-18 we cut running costs for central Government estates by £22 million and took out 156,000 square metres—contributing to wider running cost savings of £760 million, in real terms, since 2010. Since 2015, sales of surplus property have raised an estimated £2.5 billion. Since 2013, the One Public Estate programme has invested £70 million across the public sector, including local Government. This has supported the collection of over £140 million in capital receipts and saving over £20 million of running costs.

Harnessing the power of digital for Government and the public

Making Government digital has been a major reform area since 2017. We estimate that from 2016-17 the Government Digital Service has enabled total benefits of around £1.9 billion with its advice on more streamlined and value-for-money approaches. The public has responded positively to our focus on digital: the number of users accessing GOV.UK Verify rose by 4.5million between October 2017 and October 2019.

Supporting our veterans with better long-term outcomes

The UK aims to lead the world in its support for veterans. From its position at the centre of Government, the new Office for Veterans’ Affairs ensures that every Department plays its part in bringing about better outcomes for veterans, particularly in terms of their mental health, jobs and homes. With £5 million of funding secured for next year, the OVA will ensure that Departments work together, and with charities, to support veterans and showcase their contributions to society during and after leaving service.

Unlocking economic value through the new Geospatial Commission

The Cabinet Office aims to unlock up to £11 billion of economic value a year by making better location data accessible. A new digital map of underground pipes and cables will help save lives and reduce disruption caused by their being struck in error: pilot projects have begun in London and the North East. We are on track to deliver our National Geospatial Strategy in spring 2020, and also the digital OpenMastermap commitment.

Strengthening the UK’s cyber security

In its first three years, the National Cyber Security Strategy has driven transformational change across Government and society. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which links world-class intelligence capabilities with outward-facing public engagement, has given the UK an internationally-respected national technical authority.

Tackling the cyber threat relies on the UK having the necessary skills, talent, innovation and research. The National Cyber Security Programme has invested heavily in the domestic cyber sector, with funding and expert support for start-ups creating a pipeline of the services and expertise we need to remain a world-leading 21st century economy.

An ambitious international agenda complements domestic cyber interventions. Through diplomacy we seek to build consensus on the universal benefits of a free, open and secure cyberspace and shape the development of norms that dovetail with our values.