/Boris Johnson vows to scrap wasteful government projects

Boris Johnson vows to scrap wasteful government projects

Boris Johnson’s war on ‘Whitehall waste’: PM launches tough review of EVERY government project, vowing to AXE those that do not represent value for money

  • Boris Johnson told Cabinet ministers they must review every ongoing project
  • Review focus is on making sure all government work represents value for money
  • Means thousands of Whitehall projects and work streams will now be assessed 
  • Conclusions will be presented to the Treasury ahead of the Budget on March 11 

Boris Johnson today launched a massive review of every ongoing government project to make sure each one represents value for money, with those judged to be a waste due to be axed or overhauled. 

The Prime Minister has tasked his entire Cabinet with assessing all of the work being done in their respective departments in a new war on frivolous spending.

The review comes amid growing concerns about the cost of a number of big ticket government spending items, most notably the planned HS2 high speed railway line, and will inevitably spark speculation they could be axed.

Mr Johnson and Chancellor Sajid Javid told ministers at a meeting of the Cabinet this morning that ‘tough decisions’ will be taken ahead of the Budget on March 11 ‘in order to prepare the economy for the next decade’.  

It means that thousands of projects will now be scrutinised in the coming weeks to see if they should continue. 

It is understood that no specific projects were mentioned by name during today’s Cabinet meeting.  

Boris Johnson, pictured in Downing Street on December 13 after his election victory, has instructed all of his ministers to conduct a review into the value for money of each and every government project

Boris Johnson, pictured in Downing Street on December 13 after his election victory, has instructed all of his ministers to conduct a review into the value for money of each and every government project

Boris Johnson, pictured in Downing Street on December 13 after his election victory, has instructed all of his ministers to conduct a review into the value for money of each and every government project

Which government projects could be in the firing line? 

The government’s new war on waste will see every Whitehall project reviewed to see if they represent value for money. 

That means that even the most-high profile of initiatives could face the axe. 

Here is a selection of proposals which will face intense scrutiny. 

HS2: The proposed ultra fast rail link between London and northern cities has long faced criticism over its benefits and costs.

HS2 Ltd’s latest official estimate of the project is £88 billion, up from £55 billion in 2015.

But this week a Labour peer said the costs were ‘out of control’ and could result in a £40 billion loss for taxpayers. 

Aircraft carriers: The Royal Navy has just taken possession of its second new aircraft carrier, HMS Prince Of Wales. 

The £3.1 billion, 70,000 tonne floating airfield could be sold off to raise cash, with the Prime Minister’s top aide Dominic Cummings believed to regard it and sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth as a waste of money.

Heathrow: Labour’s John McDonnell has suggested that the government could start its belt-tightening by pulling the plug on the planned third runway for Heathrow Airport. 

The project, due to cost £14 billion, was opposed by the PM who once threatened to physically stop the development, before ultimately giving in.

Mr McDonnell told reporters today: ‘It would save an awful lot on bulldozers running Boris Johnson over wouldn’t it?’

Every so-called ‘legacy project’ – those started under a previous government – will also be rated on whether they fit with the new administration’s priorities and the latest Tory manifesto which propelled Mr Johnson to an 80-seat majority at the election last month.

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: ‘Cabinet held a discussion on the economy and upcoming fiscal events. The Prime Minister said the Budget will focus on delivering the priorities set out in the manifesto.

‘This is a new government with a new mandate, including to level up across the country, invest in infrastructure and tackle climate change. 

‘The Prime Minister said there is a massive opportunity to unleash potential to every corner of the United Kingdom. 

‘The Chancellor and the Prime Minister said the Budget is also the time to take tough decisions in order to prepare the economy for the next decade. 

‘They said ministers need to root out any waste, particularly anything that is not aligned with the government’s priorities, and demonstrate value for money of every pound of taxpayers’ money that we spend.’  

The PM’s order means ministers and officials now face the prospect of having to conduct huge, and speedy, pieces of work so that they can justify how they are spending each and every pound they are provided with. 

The findings of each department will be presented to Mr Javid and the Treasury for further analysis. 

Number 10 has stressed the review is purely about making sure money is being spent effectively rather than it being a drive to save cash.  

The review is likely to stir up a hornet’s nest of rows across Whitehall – especially if major projects like HS2 are scrapped or gutted – with Number 10 braced for significant push back. 

But the Tories believe that they must take long-term policy decisions now in order to guarantee future economic and political success.

Ministers will present the findings of the review to Sajid Javid and the Treasury before the Budget on March 11. The Chancellor is pictured outside Number 10 today.

Ministers will present the findings of the review to Sajid Javid and the Treasury before the Budget on March 11. The Chancellor is pictured outside Number 10 today.

Ministers will present the findings of the review to Sajid Javid and the Treasury before the Budget on March 11. The Chancellor is pictured outside Number 10 today. 

Mr Johnson’s administration is expected to borrow money to fund big infrastructure projects. 

But with day-to-day government spending relatively tight – and with manifesto pledges not to increase taxes – there is a desire to make sure every penny available is spent as well as possible. 

Given that the Conservative Party has been in power for almost a decade, the PM’s spokesman was asked if the review represented a criticism of his predecessors in Downing Street. 

The spokesman said: ‘It is a new government which was elected on a new manifesto with a new set of priorities and that is what the Prime Minister and his colleagues will be focused upon.’

He added: ‘All secretaries of state were encouraged to go through their departmental spending and their projects, each and every one, in detail and ensure there is no waste and that where waste exists it is rooted out.’ 

Matt Kilcoyne, the deputy director of the Adam Smith Institute think tank, welcomed the review and said: ‘It’s right that Whitehall’s pet projects are being put to the test of whether they’re value for money and deliver the new government’s objectives.

‘Taxpayers have a right to know that their money is being spent wisely on the things that they care about. No project should see good money thrown at it after bad if it’s not delivering.’

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