Whitehall HR duplication to be tackled by implementing single policy

The government is looking to create a single HR strategy to cover all Whitehall departments in an effort to reduce duplication.

The Efficiency and Reform Group, a new joint Treasury-Cabinet Office group, set up today to help drive forward savings in government, has revealed one of its key pledges is to implement a programme to simplify HR functions across the Civil Service and eradicate duplication.

The news follows an announcement earlier today by Chancellor George Osborne detailing how the coalition government will create savings of £6.2bn across the public sector this financial year.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office told Personnel Today one of the aims of the Efficiency and Reform Group was to create a single coherent HR policy across the different Whitehall HR functions.

He said: “We are trying to centralise HR so there is one HR policy across the whole of the Civil Service, with each department running the same policy.

“In March 2012 we intend to implement the policy for the whole Civil Service.”

The spokesman said the new programme would cover HR processes, expert functions, and policy development and delivery, but refused to provide any further details saying a review was currently being conducted by the Efficiency and Reform Group.

However, the spokesman could not rule out the fact that the new focus for HR could result in job cuts within the profession as duplication between departments is stripped out.

Francis Maude, the new minister for the Cabinet Office, previously told Personnel Today a Conservative government would look to reduce duplication and increase savings within Whitehall by increasing the use of outsourcing for HR functions.

Launching the new cross-department group today, he said: “Good government can cost less. It won’t do just to carry on as before. By joining forces and concentrating our efforts where the money actually gets spent, we can make sure the maximum amount gets taken out of government overheads, not front-line services.”

The Efficiency and Reform Group’s other priorities include conducting an immediate review to create a more simplified approach to Civil Service pay structures and terms and conditions, cutting spending on Whitehall expenses including a clampdown on first-class travel and the use of government cars, and freezing both new consultancy spend and civil service recruitment.

The group will include civil servants from across Whitehall and will be chaired jointly by Maude and David Laws, chief secretary to the Treasury.

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