Posts Tagged ‘government waste’

Labour needs to get serious about tackling government waste

08/01/2014, 01:30:38 PM

by David Butler

With memories of seasonal excess still fresh in the mind, it is perhaps a good time to talk about waste. Waste reduction (or efficiency) is too often given as an easy means of freeing up funds; rarely is life so simple. However, there are opportunities for savings, both public and private, and a number of ancillary benefits available from a good waste reduction strategy.

In their pre-Christmas report on the Government Accounts 2011-12, the National Audit Office highlighted over £20bn worth of fraud losses in the public sector with £13bn in write-offs due to fraud and error. This, combined with the long-term funding pressures on the government coffers put a premium on waste and fraud minimisation.

One means of reducing fraud and waste is to improve the whistleblowing culture. At a recent meeting of the Communities and Local Government Committee, Head of Counter Fraud at the Audit Commission, Alan Bryce told MPs that fraud prevention relied on whistleblowers. Last June, the law was reformed in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 to give protection to workers judged to reasonably believe that exposures are in the public interest. While this protection is welcome, the lack of definition and guidance over the exact meaning of public interests means that it will be left to individual employment tribunals. A government interested in fostering a whistleblowing culture should  offer up clearer guidelines in consultation with trade unions, employers and legal experts. In public procurement, central and local government should ensure that whistleblower protection and clear channels for highlighting issues are built into contracts. Changing a cultural norm is not simple, but further legal changes and smart public procurement are a good beginning.


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