Government to cut £95 million from public sector IT

George Osborne

The Government has confirmed 95 million will be cut from public sector IT spending to help reduce the UK's deficit.

During a speech outside the treasury this morning George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, claimed the coalition had found 6.25 billion of "wasteful spending across the public sector," with "nearly 2 billion [coming] from IT programmes, suppliers and property."

His speech was followed by another from the Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws. He was more specific, confirming 95 million would be aimed at IT.

However, when IT PRO spoke to the Treasury, it could not confirm the break down of the lump sum, saying only that it was down to the individual departments and where they had identified areas they could make savings.

A spokesperson said it would "emerge as to where the departments are going to save on the IT side," but they added that there was no official statement from the department at present.

Laws also confirmed the creation of a new "Efficiency Group" to be chaired by himself and Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.

He said: "This Group will assist departments in renegotiating contracts, and it will oversee an immediate freeze on unnecessary spending on consultancy, advertising and new ICT spend over 1 million."

Laws claimed the group would "send a shock-wave through Government departments" to make them focus on what they are spending and whether it is really necessary.

The first confirmed casualty is the closure of Becta, which focused on IT in education. The Government has claimed closing this agency will save 80 million but this includes the closure of other education-based quangos and was not included in the 95 million of IT cuts.

It will result in the loss of 240 jobs.

Graham Badman, chairman of Becta, and Stephen Crowne, chief executive, released a joint statement that said: "Naturally we are very disappointed at the Government's decision."

"Our top priorities now are to make sure we have an orderly and fair process for staff, and that as far as possible schools, colleges and children continue to benefit from the savings and support that Becta has provided."

Before the Liberal Democrat/Conservative coalition got into power, both parties were critical of expensive IT projects, including the NHS' National Programme for IT (NPfIT) which both threatened to either cut elements of or scrap entirely.

It remains to be seen whether the NPfIT will be affected or whether other projects will take the brunt of the cuts.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.