“authority to scrutinise and review, critically, the nature of spending in all areas..”

Here’s an interesting speech by the Northern Ireland Executive’s Finance minister, Peter Robinson, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy annual conference – “Delivering more with Less – Surviving the Big Squeeze!” – which almost slipped by, although the BBC did report it briefly. The proposal for a Performance & Efficiency Delivery Unit (PEDU) should, no doubt, be viewed in light of the expected budgetary restrictions.This is how Peter Robinson sees the objectives and composition of PEDU [added emphasis throughout]

Mr Robinson said that while its composition would have to be finalised, it must have clear objectives:

The PEDU will have authority to scrutinise and review, critically, the nature of spending in all areas. It will be asked to identify radical options to produce deliverable efficiency savings over and above the 3% level already set by direct rule Ministers. It may be that differential savings levels across the public sector will result from this.

Membership will be limited to a few respected individuals with a strong track record in overseeing successful organisational change involving the delivery of greater efficiency and better quality services. The unit should include individuals from outside the public sector.

“I am particularly keen that the PEDU will look at how we spend our money at present and what we achieve in terms of quality public services. It should be prepared to challenge even the most widely accepted assumptions about how we are organised and how we go about the business of delivering services.

What I want from the process is challenging recommendations as to what we should and should not be doing within the public sector, as well as plans to ensure that those services we must deliver are provided cost-efficiently.

“The Unit will also need to consider how our public spending programmes impact on securing growth in our wider economy, including the gap in productivity levels, in both the public and private sectors here, compared to the rest of the UK. This may involve scaling back programmes where the original policy objective has changed, or where there has been a failure to deliver those objectives.

And as well as reference the reform of the Civil Service and Workplace 2010 he has other options in mind.. including one we’ve seen in use already.

“The Budget context emphasises that all parts of the public sector need to look carefully at the disposal of surplus assets. If there are assets that are not required to deliver services, why not sell them and put the money to better use on behalf of everyone in Northern Ireland,” he proposed.

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  • Bretagne

    “It will be asked to identify radical options to produce deliverable efficiency savings over and above the 3% level already set by direct rule Ministers..”

    Fair play to Peter Robinson- don’t like the Humphrey Appleby title – but the idea is a good one. In private sector, I have to cut costs by 10% a year. I am sure some of the contributors on here could have some good ideas – I have a couple I would go for to have a good look under the bonnet.

    1) If people miss 3 NHS appointments, put them into a triage pool for their next 3 appointments.
    If they hit those three then they get out of the pool. They reckoned today £12m is wasted. Give the trusts the target and get on with it.

    2) Sell off Vehicle Test Centres to a private operator.

    3) Get on with the RPA – I would go for as few councils as possible – I would suggest the job could be done by nearer 5 than 11 or 15.

    4) Lease out Roads Service parking sites to private operators. They will replace unfriendly people with unfriendly machines, but it will be cheaper on the taxpayer.

    5)Get some private operators in to build roads. Toll them to get the infrastructure built more cheaply (to the taxpayer)

    6)Privatise the causeway. (Doh!)

  • Peter

    The extent of the Government squeeze on spending has not been fully realised by many as no announcements on the actual 2008+ budgets has been made by Peter’s department. It will be painful and all this talk about efficiency releasing savings is all DFP goobledegook. They have a team of people analysing budgets to the point where they cannot see the wood for the trees and have blinded Peter with pseudo-science. There is a simple answer slash the size of the Civil Service by 50% and re-direct the spending to real services. We have the highest ratio of Civil Servants to population than any other part of the UK. Too many of them do not have a real job and are an unnecessary legacy of direct rule. So Peter start talking to the real service deliverers and forget about the comfort zone of the well heeled, smooth talking lackies hanging about your office. Remember NI is just a big local council and not a statelet.

  • Rory

    “Delivering more with Less….”

    Wonderful title. You really are on form with the unconscious(?) irony tonight, Pete.

    The rest of us might be forgiven for commenting that the public experience, that is the overwhelming majority of the population of those benefiting from the dubious delights of a “Delivering more with Less” imposition on public funds, find that the effect is rather more a case of much less, if indeed any, delivered in
    return for much more profit for those now charged, and failing, to make that delivery.

    The almost total failure of computer systems supplied to almost every government department that seriously eroded the function of those departments (remember Tax Credits and the surefire “dodgy dads’ deduction” method of helping vulnerable women and children?),did not prevent the same grossly negligent company from continuing to be awarded hugely lucrative new government contracts to mess up yet another area of “delivery of service”.

    The increasing grossness of the rapacious incompetence of the PPI system of “delivery” that has had public libraries, swimming pools and public sports and recreation centres,educational establishments and health delivery units freefall into collapse and abandonment is chronicled issue by issue in Private Eye and totally ignored by all the mainstream press. Ignorance certainly allows for bliss in the boardroom.

    Never mind! large G’n’T’s and even larger executive bonuses all round ( and a directorship for you, minister, and an executive position for you, you lovely, helpful civil servant, once the required term of discretion has elapsed) and hip, hip, hooray! and fuck the public!

  • Pete Baker


    “Wonderful title.”

    Ah, you’ll have to give the plaudits to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy – it’s the title they chose for their conference. You did follow the link?..

  • Rory

    I did understand, Pete that it was the title of the Institute’s conference and tipped my hat to your understated irony in making reference of it.

    I do hope you will give equal prominence to my forthcoming January lecture tour, ” Post-Christmas grief conselling for Turkeys”. Perhaps you might even use your influence and get Peter Robinson as a guest speaker. What do you say – there might be a fiver in it for you?