Plan Briefing No. 108 Feb 2005
In Briefing No.86
we outlined the Scottish Executive's Efficient Government initiative.
This briefing updates that guidance and includes the plan published
by the Minister for Finance and Public Service Reform on 29 November
Efficient Government Plan
The plan envisages that £745m will be saved across
the public sector in Scotland by 2007/8. The aim is to increase
this to £900m. Aggregate cash savings are £1732m. The main portfolio
areas for savings (£million) are:
Finance & Public Services (Inc. local govt.)
Non NHS procurement
Given the very tight funding settlement for
local government (see P&I Briefing http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/briefings/lgspend05.html
) this aspect of the plan is worthy of closer inspection. The
plan states that local government is expected to achieve cash
releasing savings of £325m. Savings of £168m are already built
into the three year funding settlement and the remaining £157m
is expected to come from procurement (£80m), Supporting People
Programme (£27m), Police common services (£8m), Fire service reform
(£1.5m) and procurement (£80m).
Health savings are planned to come mainly through
procurement efficiency (£50m), logistics (£10m), shared services
(£10m), preventing inappropriate hospital admissions (£25m), prescribing
(£20m) and internal efficiencies (£40m).
Scottish Water's contribution will come from
efficiencies in capital investment and operating costs.
The plan sets out five work streams:
- Procurement – Collective buying power and use of eProcurement.
- Managing Absence – All organisations are expected to
have strategies for the management of absence and support for
staff to return to work.
- Asset Management – Joining up estate management across
the public sector and reducing maintenance costs.
- Shared Services – Sharing services such as payroll,
HR, IT and finance.
- Streamlining Bureaucracy – Removing duplication in
scrutiny, planning and performance monitoring
The Executive has established a £60m Efficient
Government Fund based on an 'invest to save' approach. Organisations
will be able to make applications in January, March and July 2005.
The intention is to spread good practice through this system.
Shared services and procurement dominate the likely list of projects.
The full plan can be viewed at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/government/egrseep-00.asp
Responses to Efficient Government
UNISON recognises that all public sector organisations
should be aware of opportunities to work more efficiently and
effectively. UNISON is however concerned that in the past 'efficiency
savings' have simply been a mask for real cuts in services or
privatisation. We would be more impressed if the Executive tackled
real waste such as the £5.8bn wasted on the additional cost of
PFI schemes as compared to conventional procurement.
Others have been sceptical about the presentation
of Efficient Government. The Scottish Parliament Finance Committee
in their budget report stated;
"The Committee also has difficulty in
reconciling claims made by the Executive in relation to the Efficient
Government document. Our Committee expressed concern about the
presentation of this information and argued that any comparisons
made, for example with the Gershon review, should be on a like
for like basis and over the same period."
They also noted that only local government had
a reduction in budget baselines from anticipated cash savings.
Branches should ensure that they are consulted
over any plans under this initiative. Look for any bids by your
employer to the Efficient Government Fund or previous bids to
the Modernising Government fund. On-Line Executive resources for
this initiative are currently very poor, but the Open Scotland
site is a good starting point http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Government/Open-scotland.
The Local Government Improvement Service has
equally poor resources however they have recently appointed a
new Chief Executive who is reviewing the framework http://www.scotland.gov.uk/about/FCSD/LG-PERF4/00018777/improveservice.aspx
Remember that savings are to be reallocated to
services. Some employers are already attempting to claim budget
cuts under this initiative. Ensure your employer can identify
how savings have been reallocated. Employers should also be encouraged
to claim credit for all productivity improvements.
Shared services will be a priority including
(but not limited to) procurement, IT, HR, payroll and finance.
P&I Briefing No.10 sets out some guidance largely based on
UNISON Scotland's private sector experience. This does not have
to mean combining services across Scotland. Regional or virtual
solutions may be more appropriate. Encourage employers to look
across public service boundaries for more localised solutions,
particularly if outsourcing or private finance is being considered.
The strategy states "in many cases a regional approach
is as appropriate as a national model".
Most public sector organisations will have policies
for managing absence. However, these will be analysed and benchmarked
by Audit Scotland as part of this initiative. Employers are also
being encouraged to "address the management of sickness
absence as part of negotiations on pay and conditions".
Whilst there are a number of positive programmes for managing
sickness absence, disciplinary procedures remain the most common
employer tool. See http://www.managingabsence.org.uk.
Please forward examples of good and bad practice
to Dave Watson at the P&I Team in UNISON House email@example.com.
This will enable us to develop further guidance for branches and
engage with government through the Scottish Public Service Forum.
Contacts list: Dave Watson firstname.lastname@example.org
@P&I Team 14 West Campbell Street GLASGOW G2 6RX Tel: 0845 355 0845 Fax: 0141 307 2572
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