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NAO: save beyond target figure

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Public bodies should plan to make substantially greater savings than they require, to allow leeway for theoretical savings that fail to materialise, the National Audit Office auditor general has warned.

Amyas Morse told an NAO conference his experience in the private sector was to identify twice as much as required.

He said: “I always used to expect people to identify at least twice as much savings as were required in order to allow for the very large amounts of slippage between theoretical and reality in terms of savings. If you have a pile of savings equal to the target number, I would think again.”

Mr Morse added: “This is a multi-year exercise. If you have savings that you are sure you are going to be able to deliver, don’t fire them all off in year one because then you are going to be in a lot of difficulty in future years.”

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