Force supply firms' prices down, Whitehall urged

Whitehall sign Several government contracts have been heavily criticised in recent months

Related Stories

The government is "not fully using" its buying power to ensure its contractors provide value for money, MPs have said.

The Public Accounts Committee also urged ministers and officials to make companies pay their "fair share" of taxes or lose lucrative work.

Chairwoman Margaret Hodge said the Treasury and Cabinet Office had been "half-hearted" in implementing change.

But the government said Whitehall was becoming "leaner" and "more efficient".

Earlier this month, Prime Minister David Cameron indicated companies with "broken" cultures could be blocked from bidding for government work.

This followed private security companies Serco and G4S overcharging by tens of millions of pounds for tagging criminals, including for monitoring dead offenders.

'Strong action'

G4S had also failed to provide enough security guards for the 2012 London Olympics, and the government had uncovered potentially fraudulent behaviour in Serco's management of its £285m prison-escorting contract, the MPs said.

Their report stated: "While it is long overdue, we welcome the co-ordination of the management of major suppliers across government.

"However, government is still not fully using its negotiating position as a large customer to challenge those who pay little UK tax on their profits or those who have failed to deliver effectively in previous contracts.

"The Cabinet Office should consider how suppliers' performance and record of paying their fair share of tax impact on procurement decisions."

The committee suggested top civil servants should be held more accountable.

It criticised the Cabinet Office and Treasury for "failing to act together as a strong corporate centre".

'Improved'

Mrs Hodge, a Labour MP, said: "The need for more efficient administration in public services has never been more pressing. Strong action is essential to minimise the impact of real terms cuts in public spending on the quality of public services."

She added: "For too long these two central departments have been half-hearted in their dealings with spending departments and have failed to achieve best value for the taxpayer.

"Tougher leadership from the centre of government is required. The central departments should take on the challenge with renewed vigour and imagination, and take responsibility for instituting change across government and holding spending departments to account."

She also said: "Government could save money and improve people's lives by investing more on early action to stop things going wrong and encouraging more co-operation across the departments."

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "The steps we have taken to transform Whitehall into a leaner, more efficient machine, managing its finances like the best-run businesses, generated £10bn of savings for the taxpayer last year alone.

"At the time of the last election, government procurement was unco-ordinated and bureaucratic. We've stripped out unnecessary procedures, improved the way we buy, and enforced sensible controls on spend."

The spokesman added that "clear plans" would further improve the situation.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More UK Politics stories

RSS

Politics Live

  1.  
    @PickardJE Jim Pickard, chief political correspondent for the Financial Times

    tweets: Household incomes returning to pre-crisis levels, more or less. Labour's campaign theme for March? Cost of living crisis.

     
  2.  
    07:15: 'Sounds a lot' BBC Breakfast

    Mr Farage says his new immigration system would cost "a few hundred million pounds" which "sounds a lot" but would bring huge savings in the long run.

     
  3.  
    07:14: 'Some exceptions' BBC Breakfast

    UKIP suggests someone coming in to Britain should earn £27,000 or more. But when it's put to Mr Farage that a nurse's starting salary is much less than that, he admits: "I do accept that with the health service there will be some exceptions."

     
  4.  
    07:12: Skilled workers BBC Breakfast

    Nigel Farage has moved on to BBC Breakfast. He says last year 27,000 people came into the UK who would have passed UKIP's points system. He seems happy with that as long as all of that number don't claim benefits for five years and have health insurance.

     
  5.  
    07:06: 'Wages have struggled' BBC Radio 4

    Over on Today - which you can listen to via the live tab above - Paul Johnson, from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, says incomes have "taken an awfully long time to recover", but the government has made a "reasonably significant effort at reducing the deficit". More on the IFS's view of wages in our story here.

     
  6.  
    07:01: 'Back to normality'

    Nigel Farage has done his first interview of the day on Good Morning Britain. He was pressed about his immigration policy. He said the 50,000 mentioned by Steven Wolfe wasn't about net migration it was "about the number of foreign workers" arriving in Britain. He says the British public are "bored of targets", and he wants to get immigration "back to normality", which traditionally "varied between about 20 and 50,000 a year". He sounds slightly exasperated when it's put to him that, actually, that still sounds like a target.

     
  7.  
    @BarrySheerman Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield

    tweets: Selling off the family silver in a panic as Election approaches Royal Mail East Coast & now Eurostar! What a Govt!

     
  8.  
    Gawain Towler, UKIP communications officer

    tweets: @Nigel_Farage waiting to go on Good Morning Britain @ukip

    Nigel Farage

     
  9.  
    @WalesPolitics BBC Wales Politics

    tweets: More Welsh voters think David Cameron (34%) would make a better PM than Ed Miliband (23%), according to a BBC Wales/ICM poll published today

     
  10.  
    06:48: Policy muddle? Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    You might say this is just policy nerds at Westminster trawling over the details of UKIP policy, but the danger, I think, for them is that this moves from a policy muddle story to a policy shambles story. It could become an issue about UKIP's credibility and how serious a party they are, and that does have the potential to damage them. It also follows a bit of a tangle they got into over the NHS a short time ago about whether they favour a private insurance model or not.

    I wonder - and we saw it to some extent with the Greens last week - if the smaller parties are beginning to sweat a bit now the focus is really on them. They are beginning to find it a bit tougher.

    Despite all the talk of this election being different from any before, I wonder whether actually this might really end up being the usual big clash between the two big parties on the two big issues, the economy and the NHS.

     
  11.  
    06:41: Party politics
    David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Theresa May

    We stand corrected. Having said Theresa May seemed unmoved by whatever joke David Cameron and Nick Clegg were enjoying yesterday before the Mexican president's visit, we've found evidence to the contrary. Here she is having a ball with the deputy PM.

     
  12.  
    06:38: Lib Dem drug policy
    Nick Clegg

    Nick Clegg is due to give a speech today on drugs. He'll say a future Lib Dem government would take control of drugs policy out of the hands of the Home Office and give it to the Department of Health. He will also pledge to end the "nonsense" of jailing people for possessing small amount of drugs for their personal use, and say young people should not be penalised in later life because of a criminal record.

     
  13.  
    @YouGov YouGov, polling firm

    tweets: Update: Cons lead at 2 - Latest YouGov / Sun results 3rd Mar - Con 36%, Lab 34%, LD 5%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%; APP -19

     
  14.  
    06:32: Target ditched? Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    Nigel Farage is expected to say his party wants a new migration control commission to get net migration down. We already know it also wants to give commonwealth citizens the same rights to come here as EU workers. And if it was in government, UKIP would have a points-based system, like in Australia, to only allow in highly skilled workers that the economy needs.

    But the idea of a cap - or target - on how many can come appears to have been ditched. Having seen the Conservatives get into trouble after they spectacularly failed to deliver on a firm pledge to get net migration down to the tens of thousands, the UKIP leader says he does not want any 'arbitrary targets'. But just last week the party's spokesman on the issue, Steven Woolfe talked about an annual gross target of 50 thousand workers. It's something the party has touted as policy for months.

     
  15.  
    06:27: UKIP immigration speech

    On to today's news. Campaign-wise, UKIP are currently top of the shop with a big speech coming up later on one of the subjects they're most associated with - immigration. Leader Nigel Farage will promise not to set "arbitrary" immigration targets and instead focus on controlling our borders with an Australian-style points-based visa system. The use of the word "arbitrary" is no doubt a dig at David Cameron who, of course, vowed to get immigration down below 100,000 at the last general election, but has been unable to do so.

     
  16.  
    06:22: Front pages

    Here's our digest of today's newspapers. In terms of politics, the Sun claims to have a Budget exclusive, saying George Osborne is planning to cut the price of a pint again. Elsewhere, the Times' front page carries a big picture of David Cameron and Nick Clegg in stitches at an event on Tuesday. Whatever the joke was, Theresa May, pictured behind them stony-faced, doesn't seem to get it.

     
  17.  
    06:18: Labour demands more on abuse

    Labour want to go further and make it mandatory for any allegation of abuse to be reported. They accused the government of "a missed opportunity", but others, including, former Conservative children's minister Tim Loughton, warned against Labour's idea, saying it could put victims off telling anyone about their suffering.

     
  18.  
    06:16: Child sexual abuse

    Tuesday was dominated by the issue of child sexual abuse as a damning report into the treatment of girls in Oxfordshire was published. David Cameron held a meeting at No 10 and announced that in future, teachers, councillors and social workers in England and Wales who fail to protect children could face up to five years in jail.

     
  19.  
    06:11: Good morning

    Hello and welcome to a fresh Wednesday's political coverage. Victoria King and Matthew West will bring you all the action, reaction and analysis in text and you'll be able to watch and listen to all the main BBC political programmes, from Today and Breakfast through to Newsnight and Today in Parliament. Don't forget you can get in touch by emailing politics@bbc.co.uk or via social media @bbcpolitics. Here's how Tuesday unfolded.

     

Features

  • Elderly manSuicide decline

    Why are fewer elderly people killing themselves in the UK?


  • Petrol pumpPumping up

    Why are petrol prices rising again?


  • Image of George from Tube CrushTube crush

    How London's male commuters set Chinese hearts racing


  • TricycleTreasure trove

    The lost property shop stuffed with diamonds, bikes... and a leg


Elsewhere on the BBC

Programmes

  • Former al-Qaeda double agent Aimen DeanHARDtalk Watch

    Islamic State is about revenge says former al-Qaeda member turned spy Aimen Dean

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.