Government saves £249m on ICT

The government has made some £249 million worth of savings in ICT spend over the last financial year, the Cabinet Office revealed today. 

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude revealed in February that savings of £140 million had been achieved for the first eight months of 2011/12 (to December) by demanding rigorous business cases to be provided for any significant ICT spend.

However, Maude has confirmed today that the savings totalled £249 million for the full 12 months to April, with spending on ICT and Digital services accounting for £104 million of these, and savings of £145 million also achieved on ICT projects. 

The amount forms part of some £5.5 billion saved by Whitehall over the past year, which was driven by the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG). The ERG applied spending controls to cut expenditure by departments on IT contracts, property, marketing, temporary staff and consultancy.

Maude said: “There’s never an excuse for wasting taxpayers’ money in the way it was in the past, but given the size of the deficit this government inherited and the ongoing tough economic climate, we were determined to cut the fat from Whitehall. Because our controls on spending are working well and saving unprecedented amounts of money, I’m determined they will be a permanent feature of good governance.”

“Last year, this government beat its own prediction and saved a staggering £5.5 billion from departmental expenditure, on top of the £3.75 billion from our first year in office.”

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He added: “The real question is: why were such savings never made before and why was so much taxpayers’ money squandered on things like unnecessary consultancy, wasteful marketing and underused property leases?”

Maude also confirmed that spending controls would remain a permanent feature across government.

In recent months, the government has worked to improve internal operations and make the delivery of public services more cost-effective via the work being done by the Government Digital Service, which has launched a beta version of the government single-domain website, for example.

Furthermore, it has targeted some of its large ICT suppliers, such as SAP and Microsoft, to renegotiate licencing and maintenance contracts, which has shaved off in excess of £70 million of its software bill up until 2015.

Outside of ICT spend, the Cabinet Office secured £1 billion worth of savings through a moratorium on consultancy spend and on existing consultancy contracts. Since 2010 consultancy spend has been cut by over 85 percent.

It has also cut £390 million out of marketing spend and £200 million through the reduction in the government’s property estate.