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Around £1.8bn to be saved by government plans to overhaul back office systems

Updated figures have been released as part of the two year anniversary of the Shared Services Strategy, which sets out how departments will find efficiencies by working more closely together.

  • The savings are expected to be made over next 15 years in Whitehall efficiency drive
  • Modern technology and automation being used to free up civil servant time
  • Services of all government departments brought together in clusters to make better use of data across departments

Around £1.8 billion could be saved over the next 15 years in the latest Whitehall drive to modernise costly back-office systems across the civil service, according to initial government estimates.

The Shared Services Strategy for Government was launched two years ago to offer better value for money for the taxpayer through the use of cheaper and more efficient HR and finance systems.

In the last 24 months, significant developments have been made, including the creation of five ‘clusters’ which will bridge gaps between 18 departments and more than 100 arms length bodies to create a single system used by all for the first time.

Individual departments replacing their own systems would cost more than £1.7 billion whereas the shared services clusters estimate that they will generate around £1.8 billion pounds of benefits for around £900 million cost. This would be delivered through £500m of financial savings and £1.3bn in efficiencies.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Jeremy Quin said:

The strategy was created to offer better cross-government, streamlined services that relieve the burden of bureaucracy. We want to free up civil servants’ time to focus on what they do best: engaging with, and delivering for the British public.

This transformational programme is underway and demonstrates the important steps we’re taking to be more collaborative.

The strategy offers greater interoperability by linking different back-office computer systems and making better use of real time data. This will help join up departments and present a clearer workforce picture. The new structure could be critical for future cross-government challenges, ensuring the government is more resilient to urgent crises.

Examples of ‘clusters’ include Defence which brings the services of the Ministry of Defence, Armed Forces and veterans together which will ensure departments are working off the same HR and finance systems to deliver major savings for the taxpayer.

Another example is the ‘Hera programme’ which has been implemented by the Overseas cluster. It centred around moving three very different legacy business systems into one within six months. It has transformed business processes and offered a new finance and HR system with wider capabilities for over 20,000 FCDO civil servants.

Nathan Moores, Shared Services Strategy Director, said:

I’d like to thank all colleagues across the five Clusters, the functions including Civil Service HR, Government Finance Function, Crown Commercial Service and the Functional Convergence Programme for their hard work, dedication and commitment to collaborating on the strategy over the last two years.

I’m so proud of what has been achieved so far, we have seen phenomenal progress, collaboration and delivery across government. We are on a journey to ultimately improving the daily working lives of civil servants by creating more joined-up systems and services, saving time and money for the taxpayer.

I look forward to working with all colleagues over the next 12 months and delivering further milestones set out in the strategy.

This year sees the strategy moving full force into delivery mode. Clusters will procure goods and services by engaging with suppliers and will aim for final business case approval.

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