2012/13 Savings: Better for Less

Last week the Efficiency and Reform Group (the part of the Cabinet Office that includes GDS) announced savings figures for the last financial year. In 2012/13 we helped departments save £10 billion, or about £600 for each household in the country.

How much is 10bn infographic

Of this £10bn, GDS has been responsible for over £500m.

What’s helped us achieve that? In large part it’s because at GDS we focus on user needs. Relentlessly. This might sound at odds with a drive towards efficiency, but we have found it to be the best way to reduce cost.

The techniques we use are straightforward and, as much as possible, transparent:

  • We ask departments to justify costs via our spend controls process.
  • We examine costs using the principles we’ve now enshrined in the Technology Code of Practice.
  • We look to break down large contracts to encourage competition.
  • We always look to use commodity services across government.
  • We look to commission services rather than enter into long term procurement deals, so that there’s a constant downward pressure on prices, and it costs us less to change our suppliers when we need to.
  • We insist on costs that match user needs and expectations.

In return, we attempt to get all requests for expenditure through this process in 28 days, and help departments and agencies to seek better for less, wherever we can.

Crucial to delivering these savings are reforms to the way we do procurement. G-Cloud has created a mature and open market in enterprise commodity technology services. There’s still a long way to go, but at its new home in GDS it is well positioned.

In the next couple of years we believe that our focus on user needs will make it inevitable that we seek better technology solutions: costing much less than the systems they replace, as well as working better.

Mike Bracken & Liam Maxwell


  1. Being interested in infographics this one caught my eye last week and I was tinkering with an alternative way of presenting the figures. However I was soon stumped trying to work out how you arrive at £600 saving per household figure? Using ONS data 26.4 million UK households in 2012 would give a figure of £380 saved per household. What are your sources for all the figures?

    1. Good point. Maybe they accidentally used the figure for families? This would be £550 per person.

  2. Hi Does the Government have a dedicated Social Innovation unit, like Denmark’s Mindlab, and, if so, could you provide a link and contact details, please? Thanks Mike Tucker

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