Page last updated at 00:53 GMT, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

MPs praise 120m prisons savings

HMP Manchester
HM Prison Service had made "substantial" progress, MPs said

MPs have praised the Prison Service for saving 120m in five years by changing the way it buys goods and services, including food and drug rehabilitation.

The Commons public accounts committee said the service had made substantial progress and responded decisively to a critical report MPs published in 2003.

The prison population had risen by 16.6% from 61,604 to 71,838 between 2002 and 2008, the committee said.

But spending on daily supplies had risen by less than 1% - about 4m.

Committee chairman Edward Leigh said: "The service has put in place a new strategy for procurement and introduced a centralised professional procurement team.

"It has even successfully phased in a new computer system - and how often do you hear that? The quality of the goods and services procured has improved and around 120 million in cash saved over five years."

The report noted that day-to-day costs had been kept down but quality had not suffered - staff were wearing better uniforms, that had been made in China, saving 703,000 this financial year.

The committee said the procurement model was now to be used throughout the Ministry of Justice, but should be "promoted further" to senior bosses at other government bodies.

But it noted the service had had some trouble winning over all its staff to the new centralised model and there were still some "pockets of resistance".

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