Page last updated at 05:59 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 06:59 UK

Call to spend wisely on services

Nurses - generic
Efficiency in the health sector was flagged up by the watchdog

Scotland's public bodies have improved the way they buy goods and services - but further savings can still be made, the spending watchdog has said.

Organisations including councils, the health service and universities have saved more than £300m since 2006, a report by Audit Scotland has revealed.

But they have been urged to work together to improve service spending - which totals £8bn a year.

The watchdog said improvements in the area had been slower than expected.

It has urged public organisations to take a leaf out of the book of the Scottish health sector, which managed to save £54m in two years as a result of working collaboratively on 150 contracts.

The report also pointed out the first two years of the drive to improve public procurement saved about £327m - and cost £61m to implement.

More savings

Caroline Gardner, deputy auditor general for Scotland, said: "The current economic climate means that, more than ever, the public sector needs to find cash savings without cutting services or quality.

"Because of the public sector's size and combined purchasing power, there is potential for it to buy goods and services more efficiently and deliver more significant savings."

Labour said the amount of money saved by the public sector when buying goods and services had been lower than expected.

James Kelly MSP, who is a member of the finance committee, said: "The good progress started by the previous Labour administration appears to be stalling under the SNP.

"The reported £61m cost in delivering the programme is greater than expected and it remains unclear how much progress has been made towards targeted savings of £400m in the current financial year."

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