The government’s latest figures for efficiency savings were published on 17th August. The headline figure looked encouraging: £18.6bn saved in 2014/15, up 25% on a like-for-like basis from 2013/14. This might sound very positive, but is rather misleading. Both this year’s and last year’s numbers are measured against a 2009/10 baseline, so the savings are the difference between what was spent in the relevant year and what was spent on the same things in 2009/10. The savings achieved in 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14 – through civil service redundancies, property leases terminated, cuts to consultancy budgets, etc. – are counted in this year’s figures as well as last year’s. So a higher savings number this year is hardly the basis for celebration – around £14.3bn of the claimed £18.6bn figure was already “achieved” before 2014/15 began. Digging below the headline figures, there are a few areas where it’s clear what is actually happening. Last year, the Government spent £378m less on advertising and marketing than in 2009/10. This year it is spending £329m less. Or put another way, it spent £49m more on advertising and marketing in 2014-15 than it had spent in 2013-14 – not much of a surprise, […]

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