Brown’s Plans For £3bn Savings Wiped-Out By New Travel And Hospitality Contract

(Telegraph) – GORDON BROWN’S PLAN to cut the cost of Whitehall bureaucracy by £3 billion will be wiped out by the cost of a new travel and hospitality contract for ministers and civil servants, The Daily Telegraph has disclosed.

The Prime Minister warned yesterday that there is a “culture of excess” in the public sector and promised to curb the salaries paid to civil servants, quango chiefs, council leaders and BBC executives.

He announced that the Government had identified new savings which could be made in Whitehall costs worth £3 billion over the next four years.

However, it has now emerged that the Government has recently begun tendering for a new £3 billion travel and hospitality contract.

Official documents disclose that ministers expect to spend between £2 billion and £3 billion over the next four years for hospitality and travel for themselves and civil servants – spending the same amount as will be saved by the efficiency drive.

A separate contract is also being offered worth about £70 million to fly mandarins around Britain and the world. The contract covers those working for central Government excluding the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office.

Last night, the Conservatives condemned the new contracts. The Tories also announced that two Government advisers on cutting the costs of Whitehall, Sir Peter Gershon and Bernard Gray, had “defected” and would now advise George Osborne on public-sector efficiency.

Francis Maude, the shadow Cabinet Office Minister, said: “No one should believe anything that Gordon Brown says about efficiency or value for money. At the same time as he calls for more resources for the front line, his Labour Government is planning to blow £3 billion of taxpayers’ money on air travel, plush hotels and away days for government insiders.”

The disclosure of the multi-billion pound contracts threatens to undermine a major pledge from the Prime Minister to cut the cost of Whitehall spending.

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