Scotland

Public sector savings hit £1.47bn in Scotland

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Image caption The savings target was exceeded for the second year in a row

The Scottish public sector delivered cash savings of nearly £1.5bn in 2009-10, according to new official figures.

The Efficient Government Outturn Report confirmed savings of £1.47bn, exceeding the Scottish government's target by about £400m.

It is the second year in a row that the target has been outstripped.

The figures come as the UK government prepares to publish its Comprehensive Spending Review, which is expected to impact on the next Scottish budget.

The Scottish government said it was leading the way in delivering a more efficient public sector, in line with the recommendations of last July's Independent Budget Review.

It said the examples included investing £11m in the ePlanning initiative, which was driving savings of more than £50m over 10 years.

The government also pointed to a reduction in spend on publishing by 51% between 2006-07 and 2009-10, and reported savings of more than £312m through improved procurement.

'Stringent' process

Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "Efficiencies deliver exactly the same high quality services at better value and I am delighted that money already freed up is being reinvested across the public sector.

"The public sector saved over £1.47bn last year through improving procurement, sharing services and better use of resources - savings significantly higher than the original target and another year of exceptional performance.

"This is all part of an ongoing, stringent process to ensure we continue to not just match, but exceed our targets."

Tory finance spokesman Derek Brownlee said the SNP had been saying since the election that making savings this year or next would wreck the recovery.

He continued: "Today, they are telling us that they have been saving more than they planned, and that public services haven't been affected.

"Today's announcement blows Alex Salmond's argument against making savings out of the water. It is ironic that it is his own government which has destroyed the credibility of the first minister's line on cuts."

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