The government has no idea how much is being spent on Civil service training and is wasting millions of pounds money on developing the skills of their staff as they have never evaluated its impact on performance, says the National Audit Office (NAO)

The government’s estimate of £275m (or £547 for each civil servant) in 2009/10 is a “significant underestimate”, the NAO said, pointing out that 48 per cent of civil servants said the training they received in the last 12 months had helped them to be better at their job.

The NAO said that weaknesses in departmental strategies and arrangements for identifying and addressing skills needs had limited the effectiveness of training. Management responsibilities had been complicated and unclear, leading to incomplete and unreliable information on what skills development was being undertaken, by which members of staff and at what cost.

NAO head Amyas Morse said: “Tight public funding means that departments must find ambitious new ways of working to maintain and drive up levels of performance. Key elements of success will be knowing what skills are needed and which staff have them, and then deploying those staff to where they are most needed. These key elements are not presently in place in many departments and need to be driven urgently to be in step with major change programmes.”