HC Deb 09 February 1999 vol 325 c140W
Mr. Willis

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to express efficiency gains as a percentage of his departmental budget; and if he will make a statement. [69630]

Mr. Straw

My Department's Public Service Agreement (published in the White Paper "Public Services for the Future: Modernisation, Reform, Accountability") includes a target for the Home Office to achieve efficiency improvements of 3 per cent. a year; as well as targets for improvements against total spending on the police and the fire services of 2 per cent. a year, and on the probation service of 4 per cent. a year.

The White Paper describes the range of projects and targets which are in place to achieve these efficiency gains. For example, a Modernisation Programme has been launched which will develop better management, accommodation, personnel and Information Technology systems. Specific targets have been set, or are being developed, for correspondence, telephone response, sickness absence, procurement, processing of immigration casework and a number of other areas.

I have no plans to express these efficiency gains as a percentage of my budget, as this would be misleading in relation to the work that is underway. Rather, the efficiency improvements will be made up of a range of increases in output relative to input, budgetary savings and transfers of existing resources to meet new priorities.