More than a third of the efficiency savings assumed by London’s boroughs cannot be verified, an independent evaluation has found.
Of the £638m of targeted savings made by Capital Ambition, London’s improvement and efficiency partnership, an audit by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy said it was only prepared to “externally validate” £391m.
While there is no suggestion that savings targeted by the Capital Ambition will not be made, the report said changes to how benefits are calculated and tracked are needed.
The CIPFA report said: “Criteria for agreeing funding is not always clear. Funding sometimes appears to be agreed with an unverifiable business case at the time.”
The evaluation, presented to the Capital Ambition board earlier this month, said the innovative nature of some of the projects made savings hard to quantify.
The report said: “A number of the projects are leading edge in nature and have fewer reference points to quantify benefits. In some instances it was difficult to quantify the level of expected savings and often either only indicative amounts were provided.”
Capital Ambition director Steve Johnson said while he was still confident targeted savings would be delivered, changes as a result of CIPFA’s report were being considered.
Mr Johnson said: “We have a number of leading-edge projects and projects at an early stage so it can be difficult [to calculate efficiency savings] but by changing our approach we hope we will be able to capture earlier and more consistently what projects will deliver.”
This will include improving the quality of business case data by asking all project managers to update calculations and phasing of realisation of benefits on a quarterly basis.