back to article Darling banks on offshoring to save UK plc

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling presents his budget today as the UK faces its worse recession for a generation. And his big idea is using offshoring and shared services to cut billions of pounds, and thousands of jobs, from the civil service. The Operational Efficiency Programme promises to cut £15bn from budgets …


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  1. Ash

    Save money

    Drop the ID card scheme, ContactPoint database, and the various DRASTICALLY overbudget (and horribly implemented) NHS schemes.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Easy Peasy

    Just bin the hugely unpopular, and unlikely to even work properly, NIR/ID card project. Hey presto, bundles of savings and we can still have piss poor civil servants do a shoddy job, but not being a complete drain on the state.

    Alternatively, having worked for some time in government departments, sack all the civil servants who don't actually do a good enough job, take their salary and give some of it to the ones who are left. If people aren't up to the job, you can sack them, hence no expensive redundancy payments. The remaining staff are the ones who do most of the work anyway and they'd be better paid and better motivated, so higher morale.

    Oh, and as the senior staff are as crap as the junior ones, stick someone with serious business experience and a track record of success in at the top and start the sacking from the top down.

    Hey presto, improved morale, big savings, improved service, or at least no worse that it is at the moment.

    It ain't fscking rocket science.

    Do I get a large consultancy fee now?

  3. Brian Miller
    IT Angle

    How about..

    The government switching to free open source software like I believe Norway already has. I still find it amazing that government and military IT is based around windows and office proprietary software.

    Did they look at the market and go, hmmm, which is the most expensive?

    Really this government is all about lining the pockets of the rich and fucking over the poor. Some things never change eh?

  4. TeeCee Gold badge

    How does that work?

    "Oooh, recession, bummer. We need to stimulate the economy. Let's spend a shitload of cash on government IT change. We'll spend half of it on free lunches for our mates in the big consultancies and the other half will go directly toward providing jobs and services in, er, India......."

    Time for a quick wikifiddle to get Alistair Darling's picture onto the article for "Fuckwit" methinks.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    What could go wrong.

    Send it all to India what could go wrong.

  6. Fruitloop

    Doomed to failure

    He should read John Seddon's fantastic book and then tender his resignation

    Systems Thinking in the Public Sector: The Failure of the Reform Regime.... and a Manifesto for a Better Way

  7. Anonymous Coward


    So to stimulate the economy he will put loads of people out of work, meaning they are no longer paying tax and getting benefits instead. All the disposable income they used to have that would have been spent on goods and services has now gone as they no longer have jobs.

    Just to recap, he thinks reducing the tax coming in, increasing the benefit payments going out and having less money being spent in the shops as it has all gone to foreign workers is going to stimulate our economy? The man should be shot for treason as he seems intent on sinking the country even further.

  8. sig


    The civil servants currently employed pay income tax and national insurance in this country, pay VAT and duties on goods they buy in this country from people who pay income tax and national insurance in this country etc etc.

    The offshore workers do none of the above.

    The civil servants unemployed in the future won't pay income tax, national insurance, VAT and duties to any great extent. They will however require unemployment and other benefits.

    The only winners will be Crapita and the other usual outsourcing suspects.

  9. Liam

    this is an easy one to solve.....

    1) stop the big brother spy database of us all - £60Bn savings

    2) enable police to police - i.e. not sit in wait in lay-byes trying to catch us doing +5mph over the limit

    3) stop this disgrace where mps get a 2nd home paid for by us - massive saving

    there we go - saved you more cash and nobody will lose out - apart from the friends and rellies that might be involved in big bro' database!

  10. Ian Rogers
    Thumb Down

    offshoring ... the civil service

    With 3 hours till the budget comes this is all speculation... but IMHO this would be a crazy idea!

    Forgetting the worsening (if possible) civil "service" by having it done thousands of miles away in a foreign language there's a distinct Total Cost of Ownership benefit to keeping it in-country: for every local job you outsource you have to add in the extra cost of paying job-seekers and other benefits to the sacked person, plus the lost revenue of those ex-earners no long spending cash in local shops and entertainments etc.

    This is the one bit of protectionism that the Yanks have got right. It is *much* more expensive to spend tax money abroad than it is to keep it in-house, even if the local wage costs are higher at first glance.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    So the way to save money is to offshore to India and the Philippines and then put a lot of people in the UK out of work and on the dole, thus increasing the benefits load and reducing the income from income tax etc.

    And of course we know just how well outsourcing to overseas works. Stolen personal details, customer dissatisfaction when people cannot understand the person on the other end of the phone and they can't understand you.

    Of course what do you expect when the people doing this study and make the recommendations have their snouts in the off-shoring trough.

  12. Gerrit Hoekstra

    So now we have to bail out India too?

    First we bail out the UK banks, who did not deliver an honest service, with a blank cheque and no guarantee that they will ever get it right.

    Now we bail out India's woes, who did not deliver working software, also with a blank cheque and no guarantee that they will ever get it right.

    This headline-catcher will not solve any IT spending problems and will only erode the UK's grass-roots IT skill base and put more people out of empoyment. Except for the government IT projects managers, that is - they will remain, and there lies the problem...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Error messages in German"

    It wouldn't have been another overpriced but still insufficiently-customised SAP project by any chance?

  14. alain williams Silver badge

    How will loosing British jobs help ?

    If people loose jobs in the UK (because we are paying people in India to do the work) then a different govt pocket is going to be picking up the tab in terms of dole/social-services/.... to support the unemployed. How stupid would this be!.

    They could save a whole bunch by supporting (ie buying from) UK companies or where things are better value. Adopting open source s/ware would help, processing tax in the UK (why was it being sent overseas ?).

    Cap the spending on that white elephant of the Olympics -- they quoted 2.5 Billion, cap them to that.

  15. Michael

    offshoring the foreign office?

    ....irony, we've heard of it.

  16. Dave Bell

    So who gets the money?

    Sure, there's a lot of waste.

    How much of it stays in the UK economy?

    We need better control of these things, but even a Polish brickie is spending some of his money in this country, rather than siphoning it all off to some tax haven.

    And if British workers are kicked out of their jobs, what does that cost the government in benefits payments?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Darling is a moron

    1) As others have said, kill the ID project

    2) DO NOT offshore. It never saves money, things go wrong and you hand control over to foreign powers/companies. Go for the Civil Service top brass, sack every 2 in 3. Middle management, sack every 1 in 2. Leave the rest.

    3) Hire more civil servants for HMRC. More tax investigators means more tax raised. They more than pay for themselves.

    4) Expenses. Cut the amounts by 50%. Demand receipts for everything. Sack anyone in breach for gross misconduct.

    5) Help British manufacturers. The biggest British automotive maker is Triumph and the government are hell-bent on killing motorcycling. They have wasted £72million on the failed MPTCs as they could not be arsed to argue for a 2mph variance on the new EU license directives. M/cycles may not be to everyone's taste and they are not magic pill for our transport ills - but they cut congestion, cut pollution (depends on the bike, obviously) and easy parking problems.

    6) Stop building on parks/school grounds. Outlaw it. Now. We are getting fatter and costing more, and is it any wonder when Labour want to concrete over everything?

    7) It's too late to stop the Olympics, but any over-run from the original quote should be taken out of the hide of the MPs responsible.

    8) Kill the third Heathrow runway, invest in rail instead. Aim to have high-speed links from (say) Edinburgh&Glasgow to London&Manchester. Have these link airports too. As happened in France, use the train to cut down on commuter flights. Trains are way, way greener. Get cargo off the roads and on to the trains, re-open the older freight lines, use the canal network for non-time critical stuff. Save the roads from the over-loaded (and killer foreign) trucks.

    9) Eject proprietary software where possible. Save money on the license fees. Open Source major projects where possible, you can be damn sure other countries are struggling with the exact same issues and open source (or "open source style" at any rate) could well help drag us all out of the dark ages.

    10) Grow a pair of balls with hair. We hear all this crap about tax havens and nothing is done. Well stop pissing about and nail the bastards. We are suffering NOW because the financial types are too busy hiding everything under the rug. Bring them to task, make them pay (and I mean, pay personally, the CEOs should be made to squeal like the pigs they are).

  18. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Dodgy Motors Inc.

    "Really this government is all about lining the pockets of the rich and fucking over the poor. Some things never change eh?"

    There is only one surefire way to make Change in Corrupt and Corrupting Systems and it has a simple Analogy in Motoring, which we can all easily Understand. Total Loss the Vehicle and Buy a Brand Spanking New Model, Fit for Future Purpose ie Crash IT Good and Proper. Or Engage with those who Build New Creative Virtual Machinery ..... Generative Engines.

    And the Corrupted Systems are Drowning in Cash and Bailout Credit, which one only needs to Ask for, to be given a Meeting to hear of the Banks Plans for making Money from One's Proposals and Creating Enslaving Debt from Windfall Quantitative Easing, which is the Model which is Causing and Ensuring the Present Continuing Collapse/Self Flagellant Public Meltdown.

    Far Better that they just Listen and Learn and Supply Currency for Power from Novel Sources which will Sow Spending Streams which will Seed Innovation and Invention, and not least in quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and robots, which may be of particular interest to some on El Reg. :-) .....

    Crikey, that means that a Bank which Invests in a Client which is Investing in New Virtual Systems which Channel Investment into the Bank can have their cake and eat IT too, as they can quite rightly claim the third party expense/investment/credit facility from an EU Fund. And that sort of parasitic skulduggerey is bound to appeal to their present default model gene even as it is reprogrammed by Virtual System Memes.

    Now ........ to be very practical, whom would one suggest would need to present at a multi-million pound investment [say at least roughly £7,777,777] Bank meeting discussing such Matters, to accept Responsibility and Accountabilty for Guaranteed Collapse of the Banking System with a Failure to Engage and Energise AI in a Novel Facility in the Bank Recovery Sector or Accept the Plaudits and Kudos for Far Sighted Thinking and Shrewd Judgement in ITs Immediate Endorsement, because of course, one would need to be talking to the Organ Grinder Direct, rather than to any Trained Monkeys who would be dancing to a Mechanical Script? And I ask that for there is a lot of very Revealing Passing the Parcel in such Matters, and one wouldn't want to be talking to Monkeys and wasting both Time and Public Money, although whenever both are so easily Invented, that is hardly a Worthy Consideration to be Worrying Oneself about.

    I do trust in Global Operating Devices and any Greater Intelligence which would reside and preside in El Reg Readership, that they realise that this is an HyperRadioProActive BetaTest Actually/Really being Played Out Virtually in Establishment Systems in Decline and Distress and is a Valuable Transparent Virtual Assist in ITs Steganographic AIR&dDevelopment.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Don't be SO negative

    We don't know the detail of his proposals. What specifically is to be off-shored ?

    If there are less contracts for CRAPITA, Anderson etc. then this indeed might save the country a lot of money. Infosys / TCS can run excellent projects (specifically, if traditional waterfall methods are used) and reduced rates and for much lower maintenance costs.

    I agree, if there are government departments running services then the unemployment and loss of income might cause more problems than the money saved. We have to acknowledge that internal IT within government is rubbish and it has impact on the public - not just financially... for example, after over a decade, we still have a 2 part driving license... it's unbelievable.

    The problem as I see it is that any initiatives will only yield savings in 12-18 months time.

  20. Francis Fish

    "British jobs for British workers" - sound familiar, anyone

    FYTP, just FYTP, Messers Brown and Darling.

    Please can we have credible opposition and an election SOON?

    Civil servants aren't crap at all, just badly led. In IT they outsourced years ago anyway and all the good folk were reassigned to money-earning projects. This was back in Maggie's time 15 years ago at least. Then they got in a lot of managers from Sainsbury's because "mangement's just management, right?"

    I thought NuLab were going to fix this and haven't even tried. More targets and more bollocks.

    I'd emigrate if I was OK with water boarding, but I'm not. No, wait ...

  21. MJI Silver badge

    Complete Idiot

    Why is this idiot doing the budget?

    Why don't they get someone who understands finances to have a go?

    Does it matter that one is LIberal Democrat and the other Conservative?

    Cable & Clarke should be co-opted!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fucking laughable.

    £15bn? Oh wow.

    More than that could be saved by scrapping the unwanted, unnecessary ID card scheme, 2 or 3 times that could be saved by scrapping other database schemes that have been demonstrated to be outright illegal, such as Contactpoint.

    As someone whose worked in public sector I can say without a doubt that £15bn isn't even the tip of the ice berg on the amount that could be saved by getting rid of public sector jobs that are effectively pointless and by cutting further general wastage of money as well as removing the execessive and unnecessary amount of management particularly in local government.

    Public sector expenditure is a joke, it's well beyond what is required to run the services that citizens need to a high standard. The very fact Darling has found it so easy to axe a few thousand public sector jobs shows how many layabouts there are sat draining tax funds with no net benefit to the tax payer.

    I'm glad I moved into private sector. My only regret is that I was not able to do more in public sector to influence improvement to service and cut wastage due to a lack of will to improve things by others due to the poor work ethic of the vast majority of those working there.

  23. Paul

    RE:"Error messages in German"

    Yep. And they were SOOO proud to be using the same system as lots of big companys. The never thought to stop and ask some people about it. If they had someone would have told them SAP is not an accounts system and is no good for them because the dont "sell" anything and have no product things would have been much better.

  24. g e

    Double Standards

    The Chancellor isn't as enthusiastic when I want to offshore my bank account though, is he

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i'm sure offshoring will be much cheaper

    as anyone with experience knows, it is far cheaper per person, but tends to take 5 times as many people to actually get anything done.

    You have to spend more time explaining the requirements, which are very carefully written in unambigous english, before being given to a non-native english speaker to interpret.

    Then what you do get back is poorly commented and documented in fragmented english, meaning any maintance costs are increased, as you have to spend time figuring out how the thing works first. Which is even better when you have another non-native english speaker, trying to understand a comment written in english by another non-native english speaker the next time you offshore it to save money.

    all my experience has been that to get what you want, at a level of quality you are comfortable with, the offshore teams need handholding and then reviewing to such a degree, that you might as well have done it yourselves as it's not much less work.

    That is if you do it properly, if you just hand out some requrements and see what comes back it might be quicker and cheaper, but chances are it won't do what you want in the best way (as you don't have the constant interaction), if it actually does do everything you want, and as soon as you need to change it your costs will skyrocket.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    > Send it all to India what could go wrong.

    You've clearly never travelled in India...!?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Suits You Sir

    What a suprise - old boys club with vested financial interests in outsourcing companies suggest outsourcing as a magic cost saving bullet!

    Seriously - the short termism expounded by the bottom-line profit at all cost retards who have presided over the destruction of strong engineering teams / companies by selling them off to overseas incompetants makes me sick.

    Thankfully the administration in the US have finally woken up to the destructive effects of this economic cannablism. The elite in the UK are still stuck shooting themselves in the foot trying to push some kind of corrupt crooked version of globalisation that doesn't give a damn about social, environmental or economic costs to the majority.

  28. ElFatbob

    as so eloquently pointed out in previous postings

    ...we don't need to outsource to make the Civil Unservice more efficient.

    Just put a stop to the Labour gravy train.

    Meanwhile, back in reality, a few jobs will be lost / outsourced, large and badly managed (IT) projects will continue, departments will be run by bad management and you and i will pick up the tab for the rebranded 'Bisto Express'.

    For the rest of our lives.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Darling, this isn't working. We want a divorce.

    "Please. This is the Alistair Darling Customer Care Centre. My name is unintelligible. How can we help you today. Thank you."

    No, Darling. When we said 'Ta-Ta' this isn't what we meant.

  30. FoolD
    Thumb Down

    Utter Folly

    Surely even this maniac can see the folly of sending tax-earned £'s abroad instead of keeping it in the country, especially at this time? It would even be better just to fire 50% of the workforce and pay them less money as dole .. at least they would be spending it in the UK economy (although as others have said, better savings could easily be made elsewhere...)

    This 'government' shows its incompetence/willful neglect once more - how much longer before even their own MPs have no confidence in them ?

  31. tim morrison

    Offshoring is a great idea!

    ...and Alistair's job should be first - see how you like it, you nonce.

  32. The Jase


    PPP is a massive drain. It was plain old accounting fraud, moving the cost from one side of the books to the other. It costs us a lot more to line the pockets of (efficient... ha!) private companies

  33. NogginTheNog


    Someone on the radio mentioned taxing pensions schemes, and someone else pointed out that's hitting the very people who've been prudent and saved.

    So why not tax loan repayments? They're the dozy fuckers who got us into this credit mess in the first place, and as interest rates have dropped they've potentially benefitted from that for zero effort.

    Go on, give it a whirl darling...

  34. Kevin

    Martin Reed recommends offshoring?

    Not a surprise, as it worked SO well at LogicaCMG prior to his exit.

    So the notion is to push even more jobs (and our personal data) out of the country?

    Can we offshore the Government & civil servants instead?

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Why outsource to India and fail the project?

    When it can fail spectacularly in the UK itself. Pot, kettle, etc.

    Reading some of the posts, one would think that projects in the UK are on spec, on time and on budget. Like f**k they are.

    I left the UK after 7 years and returned to India. Don't recall seeing a single major successful project. IT or any other sector.

    You can't grow some grass and get a football pitch right after working on it for 20 years. I wish you luck with the Olympics as you've had only 8 years to prepare.

    We have a saying in India that loosely translates to "Can't find his a*se with his own hands". Describes the UK project management and execution capabilities rather well. Look at your Immig / Revenue / NHS / FFS...

    Yes, offshoring has its problems. Especially if you go for the cheapest vendor. If you want talent, be prepared to pay for it - the days of labour arbitrage are over.

    And lastly, @Gerrit Hoekstra: No - you don't need to bail us out. We are in good health. Face it - there is no future for the UK. You are, as I keep saying, hurtling towards economic, political, technological and military irrelevance. Get used to it.

  36. Anonymous Coward


    offshore everything to india, if they can't offshore it then it looks like they will import indians to the UK @(indian local wage rates).

    then when Israel and iran start the next big war (which will happen) then the fibre optic sub sea interwibble links will all be blown up in multiple areas across the middle east with sea mines and speed boats running about looking to sink/hijack any cable laying ships sent out to repair the cables.

    [kiss goodbye to all UK-GOV .net services, want to sign on or do your tax, forget it- all lines are down with no backup to fall back on, services will not be resumed in the near to long term]

    Combine these together and the offshoreing of UK.GOV you will suddenly see that labour sold out to the Taliban long ago and we have all been sent to hell.

    What next in offshoreing.... we have already offshored the UK's food production, manufactureing, finance, Gov' corruption, oil and gas supply, IT, clothing production, nhs tratment???

    Oh yeah, all local/regional council, job benefits agency and tax office jobs...

    The UK's debt is like a third world bannana republics...(eg. zimbwabi, but without any natural mineral assests).

    [and exporting chavs/footbal hooligans don't count]!!!

    but what are the benefits, oh yeah you own(if you ever pay off the mortage) home, just before the angry homeless mobs rampaging the streets torch your house/car...

    What the hell is the point of even living in the UK, you would be better off moving to a future war zone (Mumbai/middle east)....

    Mines the thick(russian mink) fur lined(with gold and diamonds sewninto it) coat, im off to the CIS to live....

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Should have been forward thinking

    Hey, if you had kept India as a British territory, then it wouldn't be outsourcing.

    From an American (waiting for the warmonger, think they are better comments). But, we do welcome Brits to imigrate here (I play soccer, (futbol)) with many of them.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Deja Vu?

    Didn't brown try the "efficiency savings in the civil service" angle once before? IIRC the promise was to cut the civil service headcount by 30,000 and the end result was that the civil service employed about 5,000 new staff to "manage the process".

    That aside this government's continual use of the phrase "efficiency savings" drive me mad. It sounds good in theory, but they never actually implement efficiency savings they just cut budgets. In practice this usually means budgets are cut in the wrong places. Cut a public sector organisation's budget by 5% and what happens? The managers and administrators won't let budgets be cut in their areas so they cut budgets where the real work is being done to provide services to the public. They also spend a big chunk of their annual budget on consultants to manage the process, the result of which is perhaps a 7.5% cut in overall available budget. However the budget is cut across only the half of the organisation that provides the actual public service so the end result is the government's 5% efficiency saving is actually a 15% cut in budget to the service being provided to the taxpayer. IWO a massive decrease in efficiency. None of which would be so bad were it not for the fact that you never see a cut in your taxes as a result of these "efficiency savings".

    And all this from a government that continually claims to increase spending on public services.

  39. ElFatbob

    re:Why outsource to India and fail the project?

    'You are, as I keep saying, hurtling towards economic, political, technological and military irrelevance. Get used to it.'

    If not already there....

    Post-empire reality finally kicks in...

  40. Anonymous Coward

    @Why outsource to India and fail the project?

    So why then is India a Service economy ? Thousands of Indians from TCS, Infosys etc. working on-shore in the UK ?

    Yes, the UK has problems. When then extreme levels of poverty in India are lessened and the contrast between very rich and poor somewhat resolved then I'd be pleased and then you can lecture us. You most probably have permanent UK residency - got what you wanted and pissed of back home eh ?

  41. Anonymous Coward

    @AC 17:34 GMT

    Nah - didn't bother to get the permanent residency - pointless exercise. And yes, got what I wanted..

    1000s of Indians working onshore in the UK: two reasons. One being the labour arbitrage approach to cost reduction. The second being that very few Brits coming out of school can read or write, let alone code.

    Poverty levels, etc., - we'll get there. No reason why I should wait before "lecturing" to a country with the highlest per capita "disability allowance", a material proportion of mortgaged homes with negative equity,... the list goes on.

    Every country has its problems, we have ours. Doesn't stop anyone from lecturing... As I said in an earlier post, I think the concept of nationhood is bol**ocks - lines on maps drawn by people with questionable intent. But I do like to hold up a mirror when people start dissing other countries. Take a good look.

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