Only half of Brown’s savings can be validated

Only half of Brown's savings can be validated

National Audit Office head says validity of chancellor's claimed Gershon savings is in doubt

Only half of Gordon Brown’s claimed £2bn efficency savings can be validated,
the head of the National Audit Office claims.

The Tories and Liberal Democrats are now challenging the government to
explain the discrepancy.

Comptroller general Sir John Bourn said the NAO was able to validate only
half of the £2bn savings cited by chancellor Gordon Brown in his last budget,
and warned the £4.7bn he claimed at the end of September should be regarded as
provisional and subject to further verification, the Evening Standard reports.

An NAO report published last month said the Office of National Statistics
recorded a fall in the number of civil servants of 10,000 less than claimed by
the Cabinet Office efficiency team because changes in posts were counted ‘in a
different way’.

It recorded difficulties establishing a baseline from which to measure
savings, with some departments using baselines ‘that did not reflect good
practice’.

It also revealed many of the savings were due to savings programmes already
under way when Gershon was announced.

But it also said that while there were risks of double counting and
cost-shifting there was also the possibility that savings had been
under-estimated.

And it said Gershon’s target did not reflect all the savings that could be
achieved.

Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor, said: ‘The chancellor must
ensure that when he delivers the Budget he is more careful with his words.

‘It is very worrying that the department in charge of the country’s finances
appears to be having so much trouble making their efficiency savings add up.’

Greg Clarke for the Conservatives said the result was ‘deeply corrosive of
public trust in government’, adding: ‘It is outrageous such bogus figures can be
presented as fact.’

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