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Gov depts to cut back office, IT spending

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Several government departments will cut back office services and IT spending under chancellor George Osborne's comprehensive spending review.

The departments for education, justice, international development, the Home Office and the Cabinet Office are to reduce their back office budgets as part of the government's plans to deliver administrative savings of £6bn by 2014-15.

The spending review report, published on 20 September 2010, says that resource cuts of 12 per cent in the Department for Education's non-schools budget will be achieved in part by cutting administration and back office costs.

Within the schools budget, procurement and back office savings are expected to deliver at least £1bn, which the document says will be spent on frontline teaching.

Resource funding for police services will be reduced by 14 per cent and central government funding to police reduced by 20 per cent, but the government expects savings in areas including procurement, back office functions and "efficiencies in IT".

The Ministry of Justice expects to cut its back office and administration costs by 33 per cent. The changes include introducing shared corporate services across the department.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is expected to deliver savings of 24% through measures including continuing to standardise and streamline its back office functions. It is to cut management and support work costs by increased outsourcing and consolidating functions regionally or in the UK, says the document.

The Department for International Development similarly expects to cut back office costs "significantly".

The Cabinet Office expects to make savings of 35 per cent, to be achieved through measures including further reductions in the use of consultants, rationalisation of its estate and back office services and a renegotiation of supplier contracts.

The document says that decisions about the spending review have been influenced by the suggestions made by public service workers and members of the general public this summer. These include a proposal to "mandate consideration and comparison of open source software for government IT".

Commenting on the spending review, a spokesperson for the public service PCS union said: "The maintenance or improvement of frontline service requires back office resources. They provide vital links and when cut, public services will inevitably suffer."

This article was originally published at Kable.

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