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Government departments could be axed or merged to save taxpayer billions

Government departments could be scrapped or combined in order save billions of pounds, with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government raised as one of the departments which could be merged under plans being considered by the Treasury, according to insiders.

PoliticsHome claimed senior figures are considering plans to draw up a new super ministry combining three different departments – Business and Energy, Culture, Media, and Sport, and Transport.

Other mergers are also reportedly being considered, such as combining the Departments for International Development, Exiting the EU and International Trade and incorporating them into the Foreign Office.

A senior Treasury source told PoliticsHome: “The current Whitehall set-up is crazy – we have more government departments than the United States. Every time you create a new department it comes asking for more money – we need to start rolling that back.

“Why do we need a massive foreign aid department when we have the Foreign Office? Why have we got a load of different departments taking a piecemeal look at our infrastructure needs?

“If you cut the size of the machine you can release money for the front line – you could save billions rather than raising taxes.”

The mergers are all part of a bid to save money, with senior figures pointing towards the USA’s government— which manages a population five times the UK— with just 15 departments compared with Whitehall’s 25 departments.

Cutting the number of departments would save hundreds of millions and streamline work to make them more effective for ministers, but any move to cut departments would likely face resistance from the civil service unions as jobs would likely be at risk.

The Sun reported that any changes were being considered in preparation for the government-wide spending review in the autumn, which sets out ministries’ budgets for the next five years.

The project is being championed by the Treasury’s chief secretary Liz Truss, but Theresa May has not yet given her approval.

 Image credit  - Lauren Hurley/PA Wire/PA Images


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