Research & Publications - 2014

Efficiency By Design – How Public Bodies are Rising to the Funding Challenge

January 14 2014

Efficiency By Design – How Public Bodies are Rising to the Funding Challenge

Efficiency by Design: stories of best practice in public bodies, a new report published today by the Public Chairs’ Forum (PCF) and Cabinet Office, shines a light on the innovative ways in which people working in public bodies have improved the efficiency of their organisations’ operations. This practical guide contains case studies which demonstrate how leaders and staff of public bodies have responded positively to the challenge to deliver better public services at lower cost.

Since the Coalition Government’s announcement to reform public bodies in October 2010, Ministers have spoken of the scale of funding cuts and the resulting administrative savings. Efficiency by Design looks beyond the headline numbers and focuses on how these savings are being achieved.

The PCF and Cabinet Office have worked closely with Chairs and Chief Executives to uncover examples of best practice. Five key themes emerged from their research, which was conducted with the Institute for Government: 

  • Working differently.
  • Working in partnership.
  • Improving procurement.
  • Less property, smarter working.
  • ‘Digital by default’.


Chris Banks CBE, Chair of the Public Chairs’ Forum said:

“In recent years, we have seen many different examples of public bodies rising to the funding challenge to deliver better public services at lower cost. Through this report, we have captured some of this good work so that organisations can learn from each other about new ways to improve the efficiency of their operations.

“Our hope is that by sharing best practice in this way, everyone working in public bodies will share in the acknowledgement of what has already been achieved and be encouraged to continue to find ways of working more efficiently. The continuing downward pressure in funding makes improving efficiency an essential part of everyday life in public bodies.”


Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society said:

“Government has to work more efficiently to adjust to the new economic reality that we face and provide public services that are effective and fully accountable. Public bodies have risen to this challenge and the joint PCF/Cabinet Office report highlights examples of practical and innovative ways in which they are achieving efficiencies and improving performance.

“Together, we are implementing the biggest reform of public bodies for a generation. We expect this to reduce the administrative cost of public bodies by at least £2.6 billion by 2015. At the same time we are increasing accountability, improving public services, and delivering a crucial part of the wider reforms to the Civil Service.”

Examples of efficiency in the report include:

  • Companies House who have streamlined their processes enabling them to half customer turnaround time.
  • Natural England, who have worked in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the Environment Agency to save costs. The co-hosting datasets alone will avoid costs of approximately £0.5 million.
  • The National Archives, who have improved their procurement and secured a net saving of £0.4 million per annum.
  • The Electoral Commission, who have implemented a full accommodation review, achieving a 40% reduction in accommodation costs.
  • The Coal Authority, whose digital strategy has improved online services. They have also in-sourced their IT service support which alone will save £0.8million per annum.


Notes to editors:

The Public Chairs’ Forum (PCF) exists to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery of public services in the United Kingdom. It is a member led, exclusive information sharing and networking resource for chairs of public bodies.

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