Spending Challenge FAQ
What is the Spending Challenge and what was its purpose?
The Government committed to making this Spending Review as open and transparent as possible – and to be demonstrably different from previous spending reviews. The Spending Challenge website was an important part of this. Offering public sector workers and members of the public the opportunity to help change the way government works, the Spending Challenge generated over 100,000 suggestions on how government could get more from less.
We were asking for ideas on how government could spend money more effectively, how it could save money by stopping some activities, and where it reduce waste by taking practical steps to improve efficiency.
How did the Spending Challenge work?
The Spending Challenge website was run in two parts:
- First, there was the two week public sector Spending Challenge, launched on June 24th, which invited 6 million public sector workers to input their ideas on how to get more from less;
- Following this, on July 9th we launched the public Spending Challenge. Inviting suggestions from members of the public, this ran throughout the summer until 10th September.
Alongside the website, Treasury Ministers held a number of roundtable discussions and deliberative events with relevant experts and visited frontline public services.
How many ideas were received?
We received over 100,000 suggestions to the site, alongside 10,000 suggestions submitted via direct correspondence.
Over 63,000 suggestions were submitted by public sector workers to the public Sector Spending Challenge website. Around 35,000 of these were compliant suggestions, in that they contained a specific suggestion on how the government could save money and passed the moderation policy. Taking into account the number of duplicate suggestions, the set of compliant ideas contained over 1800 individual policy proposals.The list of policy proposals have all been published on the Treasury website.
Alongside this, 48,000 suggestions were submitted to the wider public website. 4,000 of these failed the moderation policy, the remainder were published on the Spending Challenge website for the public to rank.
How were ideas considered?
Every suggestion submitted to the public sector Spending Challenge was reviewed. All compliant ideas – i.e. those that contained a specific suggestion on how the government could reduce public spending – were categorised into relevant departments. A joint HMT-Cabinet Office team of Spending Challenge Champions read through and summarised the ideas into policy proposals. In total there were over 1800 individual policy proposals. These, along with the original ideas, were sent to departments to consider whether they could be taken forward as part of the Government’s efforts to improve efficiency and get more for less.
The Spending Challenge Champions worked with departments to identify a number of proposals that could be announced as policy at the Spending Review, with Departments also using the ideas to feed into wider policy development.
Ideas submitted to the public Spending Challenge were dealt with through a different process. From August 19th to September 3rd, members of the public were invited to review all ideas submitted that passed the site’s moderation policy and to rate them according to their potential for saving money. We received over 250,000 votes in all.
Once voting closed at the beginning of September, officials reviewed the top 2000 ideas to identify those with the most potential. These ideas were shared with departments and are reflected in the announcements made at the Spending Review.
Why was there a different process for public sector and public ideas?
The Government first invited public sector workers, people with direct experience of delivering public services and an understanding of where things could be done better and more efficiently, to submit their money saving ideas to the Spending Challenge. To encourage people to be open, the Government committed to not publishing these ideas immediately. A cross-whitehall team was set up to undertake a first filter, removing all non-compliant ideas (i.e. those that did not contain a specific money saving idea), and categorising them by departments. Following this, a joint HM Treasury – Cabinet Office team of ‘Spending Challenge Champions’ shared ideas with departments, highlighting any that looked particularly promising.
Following the public sector exercise, the Government then opened the Spending Challenge up to members of the public. In this case, ideas were published online as soon as they were submitted and site users were asked to review and rate ideas according to their potential. This process of ‘crowd sourcing’ enabled the public to help the Government to filter the 48,000 ideas that were submitted so that those with the most potential could rise to the top. Once the rating period closed, the Spending Challenge Champions reviewed the top 2000 ideas and shared the most promising with departments.
From July 16th to August 19th, ideas submitted to the public website were not immediately visible. This is because the website was subject to a small number of malicious attacks. The Government took action to prevent malicious use but ensure people could continue to have their say. On August 19th, all ideas that complied with the site’s moderation policy were published online and members of the public were invited to review and rate these ideas.
What difference did the Spending Challenge make to the Spending Review?
The Spending Review announces 25 ideas submitted to the Spending Challenge that will now be taken forward as policy by the Government. These ideas range from improving procurement processes, potentially saving £400 million a year, to stopping sending out letters along with back to work or training credits, saving £1.2 million a year. They show that small ideas can make a big difference, and that the Government has been keen to explore all possible efficiencies in the process of the Spending Review.
Alongside this, a number of suggestions have contributed to the Government’s overall direction and priorities for reform. For example, a number of people suggested means testing some benefits, including child benefit, or minimising tax avoidance – the Government has announced action in both these areas at the Spending Review.
Why were some ideas removed from the Spending Challenge?
In total, 33,000 ideas were rejected from the Spending Challenge. This was due to a number of reasons. Around 29,000 public sector suggestions were considered non-compliant either because they did not contain a specific idea or because the suggestion did not refer to a way to save money.
Over 4000 ideas were rejected from the public Spending Challenge website because they did not comply with the site’s moderation policy. This included ideas that were offensive, contained political statements or personal information, or contained libellous statements.
These ideas were not reviewed by departments and are no longer held as part of the Spending Challenge.
How much did the Spending Challenge cost?
The Spending Challenge website cost £19,300 to design and maintain. This work was undertaken by directgov and delib, with support from COI. The cost of reviewing and processing the ideas were met using existing resources and from existing budgets.
How much will the Spending Challenge save?
The ideas announced as part of the Spending Review will help deliver more than £500 million of savings. In some cases, it has not been possible to specify the level of savings but in each, departments have undertaken cost and benefit analysis to make sure savings will be made.
Suggestions made to the Spending Challenge also contributed to wider government reforms, such as those in the areas of benefits and welfare or police reform. We also received a number of ideas that were not for central Government to implement, for example, they were the responsibility of local government or for the NHS to consider introducing at a local level. In these cases, departments have written to relevant organisations passing on the suggestions so that they can be properly considered.
What happens next?
At the Spending Review, the Government announced a number of suggestions put forward under the Spending Challenge that will be taken forward as policy. Departments will start implementing these as soon as possible, subject to any necessary consultation, legislation or other requirements.
We have also published a list of all individual policy proposals received by the public sector Spending Challenge. Departments will continue to review these and will look to implement any that have the potential to save money and help departments delivered the efficiencies required over the four year spending review period.
The public can track departments’ progress against their overall objectives by looking at the departmental business plans, also published at the Spending Review which set out the high level objectives for departments and will track progress against them.
How do I find out what happened to my idea?
Given the number of ideas we received, it’s not possible to respond to each one individually. But there are a number of points at which your idea may be reflected:
- Your idea could be one announced in the Spending Review document. Click here to read the press release;
- Your idea may have contributed to the Government’s wider reform priorities, for example in welfare or public service reform. These are set out throughout the Spending Review document;
- If you submitted an idea to the public sector Spending Challenge, your idea should be reflected in the list of individual policy proposals published here. Departments have considered many of these proposals, and may implement more in the future;
- If you submitted an idea to the public Spending Challenge, the Government will be publishing a response on the Treasury website shortly so check back for updates.
My idea hasn’t been taken forward. Why not?
There are several reasons why some ideas could not be taken forward. Some, while sensible ideas, may cost more to implement than they would save. Others may be impossible under existing European or International regulations. In some cases, the Government may simply disagree with your proposal – for example, in decisions over where to prioritise investment in defence or infrastructure.
In total, around 33,000 ideas were rejected outright for failing our moderation policies. They were rejected either because they did not contain a specific money saving suggestion or because they were offensive or contained political or potentially libellous statements.
Will you make all the ideas available to the public?
The Government has committed to making the Spending Review as open as possible. As part of this, we want the Spending Challenge to be as transparent as possible.
We have already published the 2000 individual policy proposals received through the public sector Spending Challenge. We have also committed to publishing every single idea we received, excluding those that failed our moderation policies, as soon as practicable after the Spending Review. The ideas submitted to both the public sector and public Spending Challenge websites (around 75,000 in total) will be published as data sets on data.gov in the next few months.Back to top