Taking fewer flights, and using airline reward points, has enabled the States to cut £300,000 from their travel expenses in just one year - a saving of 20%.
In 2015, £1.5 million was spent on air travel, compared to around £1.2 million in 2016. The revelations came in a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing held a little over a year after news broke that the States had spent almost £13,000 on business class flights to send two civil servants to a five-day conference in South Africa.
But a Scrutiny hearing heard from the States' Chief Executive Officer John Richardson, and Treasurer of the States Richard Bell, yesterday that there had since been a “culture change” leading to 20% financial savings.
Last year’s PAC Report on Travel and Accommodation Expenses blasted the Treasury for having, “...not coherently and clearly advised about the availability of approximately 1.5 million centrally-accrued points to reduce the cost of travel, nor which officers were eligible to use them or how to redeem them."
But Mr Richardson said that the States had now used approximately half of the airline travel points accrued – with the points now having dropped to 770,000.
Overall volumes of travel throughout 2016 dropped by 12%.
Mr Richardson told Express that the drop in both volume of travel and expenditure, was due to, “…attention being brought to the importance of value airline travel”.
“It’s also a mark of the fact that all departments are looking very closely at expenditure, and travel is also the one area, if it’s possible to reduce, we should reduce. And that’s clearly happened.”
Pictured: John Richardson, Chief Executive Officer, said that the use of accrued airline points, and a drop in the volume of travel accounted for the savings.
Concerns were also raised over the centralised travel booking system, which was originally created to provide value for money and offer a clear audit trail, but was difficult to use without training.
Deputy Andrew Lewis, Chair of the PAC, argued, however, that “a good system shouldn’t be a complex system” and that using an external travel agent should no longer be necessary.
The contract currently in place will be up for review within the coming year, Mr Richardson told Express, and the Treasury are now, “…going to look at whether this is the right approach for the future, given that travel’s moved so much with internet use, and making sure that each booking gives us value for money.”
He added that all departments are now bound by a new principles-based approach set out in the States Treasury Financial Directions, which “very clearly” outlines requirements for demonstrating the best value.
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