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MPs slam 'dismal' cost savings of government procurement body

Crown Clown Commercial Service

The UK government body created to save cash buying common goods and services centrally has so far provided "dismal" savings for the taxpayer, the Committee of Public Accounts said in a report today.

Crown Commercial Service was supposed to centralise £13.4bn of annual central government spend and to carry out direct buying services on behalf of all departments. But so far the body is managing just £2.5bn of spend on behalf of seven departments.

Meg Hillier MP, chair of the PAC, said that amount to one-fifth of the spending it expected to and is a long way from achieving its potential.

"This is a dismal showing that calls into question exactly how willing government departments are to accept the authority of the Cabinet Office in this area," she said.

"Is the case being made for CCS underwhelming, or is the message just not getting through? Is discipline across government too weak? There were clearly fundamental problems at the launch of CCS but even now it is unclear exactly how progress will be made during this Parliament and beyond. Meanwhile the taxpayer is losing out."

The PAC concluded the creation of CCS was poorly executed and progress in centralising procurement has been slow.

It said: "This is the latest failure we have looked at of the Cabinet Office attempting to centralise services. It needs to learn the lessons and ensure departments buy in to what it is trying to do."

CCS took over from the Government Procurement Service in 2014. The body is also responsible for the controversial £2.5bn Capita-run Contingent Labour One framework, whereby Capita is responsible for the provision of "interim managers and specialist contractors" across a range of services including IT.

The body takes a cut from the frameworks it manages, with total income of £67.7m last year and the costs of running CCS £66.3m. Last year CCS employed 741 full-time staff, up from 708 the previous year. ®

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