UK & World News
Whitehall Told To Find Billions In Savings
Government departments are being ordered to earmark a potential £16bn pounds of savings as fears grow over the eurozone crisis.
The Treasury is also stepping up scrutiny of spending in Whitehall as ministers underline their determination to hit deficit reduction targets.
Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander will unveil the changes in a speech to influential think tank the Institute of Fiscal Studies.
Mr Alexander will say that the coalition's action to date has sheltered the UK from the "worst of the storm that continues to affect our eurozone neighbours".
But he will warn that reforms are needed to make sure the coalition's spending plans are not knocked off track by unforeseen costs.
"In an environment of economic uncertainty, with ongoing instability in the eurozone, the UK's large deficit remains a crucial economic vulnerability. It remains a clear and present danger to stability," he will say.
New rules, which will be enforced from this year on, have been drawn up by finance directors in Whitehall and are aimed at improving financial management.
Mr Alexander will say they are "rules that demonstrate the collective determination of government to ensure that never again will our nation's finances be allowed to get into such a mess".
He will insist that departments' delegated responsibility for spending cannot be "an excuse to hide information, close the books, or weaken financial management".
"For too long financial management in Government has been stifled by poor information sharing and poor incentives. That has to change," the Cabinet minister will say.
"From now on, all departments must monitor and share spending information with the Treasury on a monthly basis. And that data must be consistent."
The Treasury kept central reserves small in the spending review so departments could have the most money possible, which means departments themselves have to have a buffer in case of any problems.
Under the new rules, they will have to identify around 5% of their resource budget which could be used if new "pressures" emerge or new policies need funding.
Mr Alexander will stress that the changes are not a "small tweak to the Whitehall machine".
"They are another signal of our unwavering determination to deliver the fiscal consolidation we promised," he is to say.
"It is this focus on delivery that is the cornerstone of our country's credibility. Credibility, let us not forget, which is delivering the record low interest rates that are benefiting millions of families across the UK."
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what do you think?
What about making a start with the ten billion Osborne is handing over to the the IMF in addition the aid to India which they appear not to need. People of this country are being squeezed to breaking point while money is being given away. I was under the impression that Gordon Brown was the deaf one when it came to the public but this lot beat him hands down. They are a disgrace.
Very well put. Wise by name, wise by nature!
Together with this, the CONDEMS have only announced ten per cent of these disgraceful cuts they intend to introduce anyway. They've already cut us to the bone while gifting a huge tax cut to their wealthy friends. Hardly surprising when 23 out of 29 ministers are millionaires.
Hold on - we have just pledged GBP 10bn that we don't have to the IMF, now we have to find a further GBP 16 bn in savings! Where is the logic or common sense in that?
Its about time that we stopped helping others out until such a time that we are sorted. How come we send billions of pounds to india a country who have a space & nuclear programme, but can't look after and feed their own people. The worlds going crazy,
Abolish the Treasury for starters.....
I have always been Tory, but this 10bn to the eurozone with the foreign aid to India is way off the mark. When our own people, that want to work for a living, are struggling to even go to work, and for all the people that have been thrown out of work, it is a life on benefits. For all the benefit cheats, for which are still many, they are the best oiff. Could someone in the know please explain?
time for this lot too go