The Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, has started a scheme of offering modest rewards – such as shopping vouchers – for DCLG civil servants who come up with innovative, thrifty ideas that saves taxpayers’ money.
Mr Pickles said:
"I want to hear from the bright sparks in the department who, in the years of spend, spend spend, may have felt that their ideas to save, save, save fell on deaf ears. I want to tap into their expertise and insight, shaving pounds off the balance sheet and saving taxpayers’ money. I want to change the culture of the Civil Service: rewarding people for taxing, regulating and interfering less in other people’s lives.
"Providing incentives to staff to flag up sensible money saving ideas is the latest in a long list of sensible measures taken by the department to drive down costs and reduce waste, including clamping down on the use of corporate credit cards.
"In recent years the department has also slashed spend on senior civil servants’ bonuses, making significant savings. In addition the department’s relocation to share the Home Office building and the scheduled re-let of the IT contract will result in additional multi-million pound reductions in spending."
This is an example that local government should follow. Councillors will tend to be in contact with senior council managers who come along and present reports at committee meetings. But that should also be a route for other staff to have their say.
By all means let's also listen to what the unions have to say. Independent, self financing unions have a role to play in this. If they think the bosses are wasting money then that is interesting.
Number 56 in my 100 ways to cut Council Tax without cutting key services said:
Encourage staff to suggest efficiencies. Offer a prize for the best suggestions. But also allow anonymous entries.
If an individual has a good idea then they should be able to offer it direct – not just through their line manager or union rep.