Jessica Morden MP and Blaenau Gwent's Nick Smith MP take MOJ Shared Services fears up with the responsible Minister in Parliament
The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Mr Francis Maude): On 10 June, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor and I announced savings through efficiency reform of central Government of £14.3 billion for 2013-14, against a 2009-10 baseline. Those savings are both recurring and non-recurring items, and include £5.4 billion from procurement and commercial savings, £3.3 billion in project savings and £4.7 billion from work force reform and pension savings.
Nick Smith: The Government have said that they want to move jobs out of Whitehall and into areas such as south Wales, but in August 1,000 jobs could be offshored, perhaps to India, from the Ministry of Justice shared services centre in Newport. Will the Minister look at this again?
Mr Maude: Earlier this week, the MOJ announced its plans to take forward the agreed plans on shared services, which were first put forward under the Labour Government in 2004 but did not begin to be implemented until 2012. There are major efficiency savings to be made. I am sure that SSCL—Shared Services Connected Ltd—the shared service company the MOJ proposes to use, will look carefully at all the facilities and will want to concentrate activity at the most effective and efficient ones, and I see absolutely no reason why Newport’s should not be among those.
Henry Smith: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his answer and for the significant amounts of taxpayer money that the Cabinet Office is saving. What role can greater digitisation play in obtaining further efficiencies?
Mr Maude: Moving public services online has a major part to play, both in making services more convenient and designed around the needs of the user rather than the convenience of the Government, and in making major savings. Typically, the cost of an online transaction is about one fiftieth of the cost of the transaction being done face to face, but for those people who are not online there will always be an assisted digital option.
Charlie Elphicke: Does the size of the savings being made not highlight the truly galactic waste of money by the previous Labour Government? Will my right hon. Friend set out his vision for further savings in the future?
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Mr Maude: No good organisation gives up on pursuing efficiency savings year after year. The Office for National Statistics has shown that in the public sector productivity remained static during the Labour years while it rose by nearly 30% in the private services sector. If productivity had risen by the same amount in the public sector, the budget deficit that the coalition Government inherited could have been many, many tens of billions of pounds lower.
Jessica Morden (Newport East) (Lab): I want the Minister to understand just how fearful and uncertain staff at the MOJ shared services centre in Newport feel after this week’s announcement of privatisation. How can he justify the hypocrisy of the Prime Minister talking about the UK becoming an onshoring nation when under this contract jobs could be offshored? What guarantees are the Government offering that these jobs could stay in Newport?
Mr Maude: The hon. Lady is making assumptions about what will happen to those jobs which I have no reason to believe are justified. If the quality of the work and the efficiency at Newport is as good as she believes, I am sure that the management of SSCL will want to look carefully at retaining jobs there.