Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Not real money

Whitehall waste is in the news (again) as Sir Philip Green owner of Topshop and Bhs who was tasked by Cameron to check on government department spending made his initial report. The report surprised no-one by stating that "staggering" amounts of money could be saved by renegotiating contracts and monitoring outgoings, even to the point of video-conferencing rather than booking hotels for face to face meetings.

The billionaire owner of Topshop and Bhs found that the Government could save hundreds of millions of pounds if it renegotiated contracts with mobile phone and stationery suppliers.
Sir Philip said ministers could cut swathes of waste from public services after uncovering a “staggering” waste of money. 
He said that the Government’s buying practices were “appalling” and that central Government would be “bankrupt” if it was a standalone business.
The retail chief was asked by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, to carry out an external efficiency review of Whitehall departments in August.
In one example he found 138,000 civil servants were able to spend up to £1,000 a month on special procurement cards with little accountability.
He said: “People are allowed to spend up to £1,000 on stationery, travel or whatever from their normal suppliers.
“There is £1billion spent on that card. Is it spent efficiently? Respectfully, it can’t be because there will be a variation of prices that are getting paid.” 
Sir Philip found that taxpayers paid for 400,000 hotel nights in London last year, costing £38 million.
The prices of the rooms ranged from £77 to £117. “Have they not heard of video conferencing? It is just unacceptable,” he said.
Sir Philip highlighted details of un-coordinated spending, with departments paying wildly different amounts for the same services.
In one instance a department was paying £1.31 a leaflet, compared with a market price of 26p - an 80 per cent difference.
In another, departments were paying anything between £8 and £73 for a box of paper and between £86 and £396 for printer cartridges.
The report revealed that the price of a cup of coffee ranged from £1.45 to 90p, a 38 per cent difference, across Whitehall.
One of the biggest areas where savings could be made was fixed line telecoms, which costs the Government £2 billion a year.
Sir Philip estimated that this could be 30 per cent to 40 per cent cheaper and called for an urgent review of costs.
The annual cost of 105,000 mobile phones, mostly with one provider, was £21million Sir Phillip said it was “inefficient”.
The prices paid for its laptops varied from £353 to £2,000. Sir Philip said that one of his team found the same laptops online for £800.
There are no real surprises there, the civil service have always been fairly crap at awarding contracts and dealing with costs because at the end of the day their "company" can't go bust and they lose their jobs. That's the wonder of the taxpayer funding, until now and FOI requests they've been pretty much able to hide their excesses from the public gaze and just trough away at our expense. Now they are in the spotlight and it doesn't make for a pretty sight. The sheer waste as well as the dodgy practices are unacceptable even in times of economic growth, never mind austerity as Sir Philip said, "central Government would be “bankrupt” if it was a standalone business"
At the end you got the usual Labour spokesweasel claiming they'd been making efficiency cuts, but wanted more details and "fairness" which is the usual gobbledygook phrasing from the bunch that allowed such largesse to carry on under their regime. Fact is, they did it with our taxes and spent a fortune mostly unchecked by a decent audit/accounts dept, because they knew they could, there were never to be any comebacks as the taxpayer fountain would never run out and they probably still believe deep down, it never will.

2 annotations:

Popular blogger who wants to remain anon on this occasion said...

We provide transport for certain private sector clients. We have to negotiate each contract with 3 or 4 different transport companines in order to get the best possible price for our client, then we add on about 10-20 percent for ourselves.

Occasionally we do a local government contract. In these cases we pick and available supplier and add on about 3 to 4 hundred percent for ourselves. They always pay without question.

It cant be down to stupidity. It must be laziness as it is not their money they're spending and there are no consequenses.

James Higham said...

more details and "fairness" which is the usual gobbledygook phrasing from the bunch that allowed such largesse to carry on under their regime

In a nutshell.