In his first month in power, the UK’s Chancellor of The Exchequer, George Osborne, put a challenge to the public.
The government wanted citizens to submit ideas on how to spend money more effectively and reduce waste in order to address the budget deficit.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron kicked off the first phase of this 'Spending Challenge' by inviting the UK’s 6 million+ public sector workers to submit their ideas. The debate was then opened up to allow participation from members of the public over a two-month period. The government wanted to hear everyone's suggestions for how they might 'deliver more for less'.
Over 100,000 ideas were submitted through the site, with more than 63,000 coming from the public sector. Ideas submitted were a mix of overarching strategic shifts and smaller, more immediate ideas which were could be put in place relatively quickly.
Every suggestion was reviewed and categorised. A group of Spending Challenge Champions, jointly employed by HMT and the Cabinet Office, summarised all of the public sector ideas into 1,800 policy proposals. These proposals were then reviewed to determine which ideas could best improve efficiency and deliver savings.
The ideas that were submitted during the public phase of the Spending Challenge were put through a moderation process. The 48,000 ideas that passed this screening process were then published on the Challenge site so that the public could review and rate them according to their potential to save money.
Over 250,000 votes were logged by the public taking part in this process. The 2,000 top-rated ideas were then further reviewed by Government departments. Of these, 25 were taken forward to form part of the Budget. These included reducing the costs of in-house Government publications, reforming the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and minimising tax fraud, avoidance and evasion to raise an estimated £7 billion of extra tax revenue by 2014.
Other ideas received through the Spending Challenge played an important role in delivering more for less over the Spending Review period. After the Spending Challenge closed, departments continued to review ideas to identify and implement those that could help deliver further efficiencies.
The ideas we’re taking forward as policy today range from common-sense suggestions on reducing waste and bureaucracy to reforms to drive through efficiency and improve performance. They show that the ideas public sector workers and members of the public have generated can help the country tackle the budget deficit and support public services.George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, UK
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