Socitm criticises Spending Review focus

Spending Review moves to boost digital government are focused too much on Whitehall, according to Socitm.

The representative body for public sector ICT staff criticised Wednesday’s announcement of £1.8bn on digital transformation.

Chancellor George Osborne said that the money would be split between £1.3bn to digitise systems at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and £450m for the Government Digital Service. Socitm will be tasked with creating platforms to encourage Government as a Platform along with a Common Technology Services to harmonise ICT purchasing.

The text of documents outlining details of the Spending Review said: “The Government Digital Service will continue to act as the digital, data and technology centre for government, supporting departments as they transform their business operations, setting best practice and ensuring quality of services.”

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There was no mention of local government, despite the GDS remit being extended to local government in March.

A Socitm statement said: “The government is investing £1.8 billion in digital transformation, but the focus is on central government delivered services such as digital tax accounts and building one payment mechanism for all central government services. “This is limited aspiration when there are so many benefits to be derived from developing holistic, citizen-focused, digitally transformed services, co-designed and co-delivered locally.”

Socitm added that investments in social care for local authorities services would not work without work to transform and link up digital services between councils and the NHS.

It also said that the Common Technology Services and Government as a Platform programme must be extended beyond the civil service to embrace local government services.

“In short, the focus of the Spending Review’s digital boost must shift from ‘Whitehall’ to local communities if citizens are to benefit properly from the digital opportunity,” Socitm said.

Colin Marrs

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