By Claire West

A Commons committee's report into government 'efficiency' fails to state the obvious that the real waste in the civil service is the huge number of separate negotiations that have to be held in departments and agencies, the Public and Commercial Services union says.

The public administration committee has wasted an ideal opportunity to highlight the inefficient and expensive system of 'delegated bargaining', whereby around 250 separate sets of negotiations on pay and working conditions are held across the civil service each year.

National civil service bargaining was ended by a previous Tory government in the 1990s.

The union also says the committee's criticism that supposed savings identified in the 2007 spending review were "not based on robust evidence about what departments could realistically achieve" applies equally to the new government's plans to massively cut public spending.

A leaked senior management memo from the Ministry of Justice, dated less than a week before the comprehensive spending review, said that "the frontline will bear the brunt" of cuts. This is because there is nothing left to cut after successive years of reductions, the union says.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "It's a shame the committee wasted what was an ideal opportunity to get to grips with the real waste and inefficiency in government. It's ludicrous that so much time is spent negotiating with 250 separate employers when this could be done centrally.

"It's no surprise to us that departments could not meet their 'efficiency' savings last time -there is quite simply no fat left to trim. As a result of the latest spending review, public sector workers are now set to pay with their livelihoods and communities will lose vital public services."