§ Mr. Soames
asked the Prime Minister what steps Her Majesty's Government have taken since 1979 to improve the management and efficiency of the Government and Civil Service.
§ The Prime Minister
Since 1979, the Government have maintained their policy to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of administration through the Civil Serviceand other parts of the public sector, with the aim of giving better value for taxpayer's money. We have reduced the size of the Civil Service by over 18 per cent. to 596,000—the lowest since the war. With the help of the efficiency unit set up in 1979, departments have carried out some 290 efficiency scrutinies and reviews from which savings worth over £900 million in total have already been achieved, with recurring savings now running at £295 million per year. Further significant savings are in prospect, for example from implementation of recommendations flowing from reviews of Government purchasing and accommodation.
We have initiated the lasting reform of financial management throughout Departments, so that all managers have clear objectives and responsibilities; and similar reforms of personnel development and training, including exchanges of staff between the Civil Service and outside industry, to improve management skills and performance at all levels, and to provide better arrangements for reporting and appraising staff performance so that their efficiency is monitored more keenly.
Non-departmental public bodies have also been subject to critical review and their numbers reduced by over 500 to below 1,700 in 1985. Another programme of review of the remaining NDPBs to seek progressive improvements in their performance is under way. We have also widened the opportunities for private enterprise to undertake services traditionally provided by the public sector. The Civil Service has responded well to the new demands made of it and the drive for improvement is continuing.