Industrial Fire Journal - Fire & Rescue - Hemming Group Ltd
Prime Minister announces radical plan to protect frontline services by streamlining government
Published:  07 December, 2009

The prime minister today published a radical programme to put the frontline first by streamlining government.

Putting the Frontline First: smarter government was launched in a major speech by the Prime Minister to the Institute for Government. He explained how the programme contained in Putting the Frontline First: smarter government would tackle head-on the challenges and opportunities of the next decade, when the public will expect more accountability and openness and a bigger say in the in the decisions that affect their daily lives.  He added that the rise of the digital age has given people unprecedented freedom and control over their lives, and they expect the same personalised, round-the-clock services from the public sector.

The proposals build on the Government’s strong track record in delivering efficiencies.  We have already promised savings of £35 billion a year by 2011 on top of the £26.5bn a year already delivered through the gershon review. But by identifying new ways of working - and being prepared to make the tough choices - we can deliver in excess of another £12bn in efficiency savings over the next four years. This includes £3bn of new efficiency savings identified since the budget - of which over 1.3bn will come from streamlining central government.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:

“Government must change for the new era – and change for good. This is the starting point for this plan. Today, people don’t want a government that tells them what to do, but nor do they want one that leaves them isolated. They recognise that when government has too much power they are rendered powerless, but that when government has too little power they are left helpless. Having demonstrated the value of government action, our task now is to develop government to work in partnership with individuals and communities to deliver the services people want in the way they want them and to preserve them in the face of all the challenges this new era presents.”

The plans in Putting the Frontline First: smarter government include:
· Streamlining the Senior Civil Service to save £100 million a year and putting in place radical reforms to senior pay across the wider public sector.
· Merging or abolishing arm’s-length bodies, integrating back office functions and selling off government assets .
· Reducing spend on consultancy by 50% and marketing and communications by 25%, saving £650 million.
· Investing £30 million over three years to get a further one million people online; and increasing the number of services available via the internet, including some benefits claims.
· Empowering citizens by the increasing use of online service delivery and by reducing face to face contact will result in over £600 million new savings. The Digital Britain Roadmap, to be produced by the end of 2010, will focus on transition plans for key services such as student loans, Jobseekers' Allowance and Child Tax Credits to go online. By Budget 2010 there will be a timetable for an online Child Benefit service.
· Rolling out nationally Tell Us Once, which will reduce the number of agencies citizens have to contact in the case of a birth from 2 to 1, and in the case of a death from 7 to 1.
· Radically opening up data and public information, releasing thousands of public data sets – including Ordnance Survey mapping data, real-time railway timetables, data underpinning NHS Choices, and more detailed departmental spending data – and making them free for re-use.
· Harnessing the power of comparative data to improve standards, publishing public services performance data online by 2011, starting in 2010 with more detailed data on crime patterns, costs of hospital procedures and parts of the national pupil database.
· Reviewing anti-fraud work across government to ensure that data analysis techniques become embedded in standard processes.
· Reducing red tape on frontline services and improving flexibility, for example by reducing the number of ring-fenced budgets.
· Giving people guarantees over the standard of core public services and at the same time encouraging greater personal responsibility.

Liam Byrne, Chief Secretary to the Treasury said:

"Today's report is a plan for driving standards up in public services and the deficit down.
We've created great strengths in our public services after 10 years of investment. Now we're going to capitalise on that strength to give parents, patients and citizens new guarantees to high quality services.

With that in place, we can free up the front line, cut back on costs at the centre and use the savings to improve the services that help people realise their ambitions.”