'Telling Civil Servants at the Dept for Business about Money Saving' blog discussion



  • paulwfpaulwf Forumite
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    I think Fatballz has hit the nail on the head - it is OPM-itis - other people's money.

    I think that is the key point. It isn't just public sector purchasing that is a pain, the private sector can be just as bad when companies get big enough. Working for a supermarket was frustrating, we weren't allowed diaries because head office thought we could use a computer for scheduling - completely forgetting we're on the shop floor not sat at a desk with our own PC. We couldn't even pop next door and buy some string, causing problems for the sake of £1.

    Independently owned businesses can save a fortune by analysing the best deal on everything because every £1 saved is another £1 in the owners back pocket. You can also work out when not to cut corners - sadly some gov departments just buy on price and don't remember the "buy cheap buy twice" maxim.
  • edited 23 September 2010 at 9:32AM
    jobbingmusicianjobbingmusician Forumite, Board Guide
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    edited 23 September 2010 at 9:32AM
    A slightly off the wall comment...

    Sociologically this site is fascinating. Internet democracy in practice, as presumably Martin learns a large percentage of his knowledge from posts on here, and then has the opportunity to feed this information to decision makers at the highest level, to inform social policy (we hope).

    PS Can you tell that I've also been subject to the LSE experience? :p
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  • dimbo61dimbo61 Forumite
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    Great idea Fatballz and ginger prince please can you tell me which garage sells front line 5 ton ambulances ?
    Best value for money on paper clips and printer ink but with the rules and regs on many vehicles they have to be custom built and take 12/18 months to arrive
  • Re: The comments about 'Other peoples money' and this being a mindset in the public sector.

    Care to tell me why I get the same letters from Littlewoods every three days?

    Halifax too. Their sales branch must be in overdrive.
  • kindofagilrkindofagilr Forumite
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    Mum_of_3 wrote: »
    IMHO there are far too many people working in Central & Local Government.

    It seems that at our Local Education Department there seems to be 3 people doing a job that in the real world would be done by just one.

    For instance, my eldest plays a trumpet and we loan this from the CC. I have a letter written to me signed by one person asking to pay and then on the same day the letter arrives I get a phone call from a second person asking to pay (it's not overdue btw). I then tell the woman that I'll pay over the phone rather than by cheque, she ticks me off of her list, puts me on hold and passes me to some bloke who takes my card details etc.

    Why send a letter and incur postal & stationery costs and why can't the woman making the phone calls take the money?

    Also, when it comes to education, we have to buy play equipment and have our repairs done by an authorised company. This means that we have to pay over the odds as the authorised company know we can't go

    Because some customers don't like paying over the phone (I don't work for the cc though)
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  • Oneday77Oneday77 Forumite
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    What I don't get is the usual budget issue.
    Oh look its the 15th of march we still have 10% of the budget left, we best wizz it up a wall before we lose it.
    There is an instant money saving option, if it isn't spent add it into next years budget. A bit like overpayments on Utility DDs lol

    Also why not introduce the civil servants to a goverment Quidco\Topcashback account ;)
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  • MobeerMobeer Forumite
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    Martin, did you mention the idea that sometimes the details can obscure the real issue?

    For example, carefully picking between the £50 and £100 DVD players might sound sensible, but having a three man committee spend half a day deciding which DVD player to get is worse than just buying the £100 DVD player.


    But, do they actually need a DVD player in the first place?
  • MobeerMobeer Forumite
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    Oneday77 wrote: »
    What I don't get is the usual budget issue.
    Oh look its the 15th of march we still have 10% of the budget left, we best wizz it up a wall before we lose it.
    There is an instant money saving option, if it isn't spent add it into next years budget. A bit like overpayments on Utility DDs lol...

    Imagine a department buying spare parts.

    Let's say last year the practice you describe was followed, and in March the department bought 6 months worth of spares.

    This year, no spares were bought for the first 6 months as the stockpile were used. Since then, half the budget has been spent on spares, and half the budget is left.

    If the department does not spend the other half of their budget, next year the budget will be halved by the accountants, as the department only appears to need half its current budget. Six months into next year, the department runs out money to buy spares, and has none stockpiled.

    On the other hand the department can avoid this problem by using up the remainder of this year's budget buying spares for use next year. With this approach, the accountants see the whole budget being spent, and maintain the budget for next year.
  • JestharJesthar Forumite
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    FATBALLZ wrote: »
    The problem with the public sector is not that they don't know how to be cost-efficient, it's that they don't care about being cost-efficient, as there is no incentive for them to be. They know some of them will be getting sacked, and realistically it isn't going to be the least productive ones. If they cared about moneysaving they might be able to offer a better service to the public, but the bottom line is they don't care, as long as they're getting paid.
    Speaking as someone with four career public sector workers in the family (three in the NHS, one just retired from many years long service in the tax office), Mobeer is right. One of the most frequently encountered problems in the incentive-to-save-money area is that, in a lot of cases, if you don't spend all the budget you are allocated for that year, not only does what you have saved get taken off you (with no bonus/reward for having made a saving), your budget for next year is reduced by the same amount too. So in order to ensure they neither overspend or lose their budget, departments will spend as little as possible in the first half of the year (in case of emergencies later in the year), then rush to use all the remaining cash in the last few months. Anyone wondering why their local council suddenly embarks on numerous seemingly random coloured-tarmac-road-'enhancement'-projects towards the end of the financial year, wonder no more... ;)

    Now, if the public sector could see their way to, say, providing a small incentive (identical regardless of employment status/rank etc.) reward for departments which saved a certain percentage of their budget whilst maintaining high standards, then either taking the surplus back to central but not reducing the overall budget for next year, or simply rolling the surplus over and topping it up from central, it could probably work wonders for the moneysaving initiatives. ;)
    Never underestimate the power of the techno-geek... ;)
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