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Efficiency drive must go further – Maude

The Government efficiency drive is on track so far but still has “a long way to go”, cabinet office minister Francis Maude has stated.

Between March 2011 and March 2012, the Government has saved £5.5bn in department efficiency savings, including £1bn on fewer consultants, £390m limiting marketing budgets, £200m rationalising the property portfolio and £500m through more efficient procurement. 

Plans for the long-term reform of the civil service could see more numbers cut, which unions are opposing. The savings achieved so far have been independently audited. 

Maude said: “Where we make a service available online, it is in many cases more convenient for the service user as well as being much, much cheaper. We can get services which are as good or better than they are now but for much less cost. 

“We are cutting the size of the civil service considerably. It is already the smallest since World War II and there is more to go.” 

But he added: “We need to go further. We have harvested mainly low-hanging fruit so far. We need to go further up the tree. That means getting some ladders and doing things a bit differently in future.” 

Jon Trickett, shadow Cabinet Office minister, said: “Far from protecting the front line, they are cutting thousands of police officers and have broken their promise to protect the NHS budget which has fallen two years in a row. 

“Already, 4,500 nurses have been cut since David Cameron became Prime Minister. And yet at the same time the salary bill for Tory and Lib Dem spin doctors has risen by 25% in just one year – so much for cutting the cost of Government.” 

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