Scottish government simplification plans not so simple - and taxpayers pay the price

June 15, 2012 1:49 PM

An attempt by the Scottish government to reduce its bureaucracy may have a sting in the tail, Audit Scotland has revealed. The plans, begun back in 2007, aimed at simplifying public services and were designed to save taxpayers £63 million. They could in fact have cost an eye-watering £80 million to implement. The news comes as a shock to those who initially praised the plans aimed at reducing public expenditure. The actual savings are now forecast to be only a fraction of those the government initially hoped for, perhaps only around £15m, a far cry from their initial figures almost five times that amount. Still savings of course, which are to be welcomed, but clearly the initial costs were well understated.

The most alarming aspect of these findings, is what they forecast for the Scottish Government's next major simplification plans early in 2013. Particular concern is addressed to the now ominous project aiming to merge the police and fire service into a single body. This vast reshuffle of public services on a national scale is hoped to save taxpayers £1.7 billion. Serious questions should now be asked of whether these ambitious plans can be delivered within budget or if they can deliver the savings that the Scottish Government expect. The Scottish Government should tread very carefully in order to avert a catastrophe at the taxpayers' expense.An attempt by the Scottish government to reduce its bureaucracy may have a sting in the tail, Audit Scotland has revealed. The plans, begun back in 2007, aimed at simplifying public services and were designed to save taxpayers £63 million. They could in fact have cost an eye-watering £80 million to implement. The news comes as a shock to those who initially praised the plans aimed at reducing public expenditure. The actual savings are now forecast to be only a fraction of those the government initially hoped for, perhaps only around £15m, a far cry from their initial figures almost five times that amount. Still savings of course, which are to be welcomed, but clearly the initial costs were well understated.

The most alarming aspect of these findings, is what they forecast for the Scottish Government's next major simplification plans early in 2013. Particular concern is addressed to the now ominous project aiming to merge the police and fire service into a single body. This vast reshuffle of public services on a national scale is hoped to save taxpayers £1.7 billion. Serious questions should now be asked of whether these ambitious plans can be delivered within budget or if they can deliver the savings that the Scottish Government expect. The Scottish Government should tread very carefully in order to avert a catastrophe at the taxpayers' expense.

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