Taxpayers can expect to save hundreds of millions of pounds through a new government plan to better share services across Whitehall departments and arms-length bodies, ministers have claimed.

The Next Generation Shared Services Strategic Plan, launched in late December, should lead to fundamental changes in the way government shares corporate services including HR, procurement, finance and payroll.

Ministers and civil service chiefs hope this will save between £400m and £600m a year in administration costs.

“There is absolutely no need for departments and arms–length bodies to have their own back-office functions, and duplicate efforts, when they can be delivered more efficiently by sharing services and expertise,” said Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.

“That’s why we have taken action and fundamentally changed the way central government departments share their services.

“We want sharing services to become the norm, so every department has high quality, flexible and resilient services available. This means they can focus on their priority of implementing policy and delivering key public services.

“The world is changing and so must the civil service. We are in a global race, and are faced with rising public expectations and spending cuts to deal with the deficit. The civil service needs to do things faster, be smaller and to provide more services online. It needs to be more unified so we have an exceptional civil service delivering the best for Britain.”

Civil service head Sir Bob Kerslake said the service was constantly looking to improve.

“One way we can do this is by becoming more efficient, and sharing services is a simple and smart way of doing this,” he said. “The civil service has always adapted to challenges, retaining our core professionalism while moving with the times.

“By bringing together more of the services that departments use we can not only save the taxpayer millions, an important goal in its own right, but we can deliver on our commitment to become a more unified body providing a first class service to the public.”

Chief operating officer Stephen Kelly said the next generation shared services programme would gain real momentum in 2013.

“This strategic plan is the roadmap for a robust, measurable and successful programme for shared services which is fundamental to civil service reform,” he said. “The outcomes of better service quality, value for money and price certainty are keenly anticipated by departments, and I look forward to its full implementation.”