IT at the heart of UK modernisation
How will the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) announcements affect your business?
The long-awaited swinging cuts for central and local government were announced… and there’s little doubt IT spending will take the biggest hit in the requirement to take a third out of central government funding. The deep-rooted, endemic problems with government service delivery are succinctly summed up in Sir Philip Green’s Efficiency Review published in October 2010: “It is impossible for the Civil Service to operate efficiently with the current processes in place,” he commented. Consequently, there’s every chance for huge scope for efficiency gains within central government IT.
Suppliers to government – especially the 12 large IT suppliers that channel 60% of government IT spend – have exploited those flawed processes for years. They will doubtless be fighting a relentless rearguard action to maintain their position.
Some might say, uncharacteristically, that the UK Government (at least the Cabinet Office) is showing considerable thought leadership with its thinking on cloud computing – and we have an excellent article from John Riley on P32-33 which gives a thought-provoking perspective.
The 28% cuts for local government will be a whole new ball game – very challenging for service providers and citizens alike… Local councils are already pretty lean, but undoubtedly IT will be earmarked as an area for both change and savings. The G-cloud should really help here; particularly where service solutions can be used across authorities and local government departments – an area of huge duplication at present.
It’s not all bad news though. There are few doubters of the role of technology in developing a more efficient, streamlined, service-centric, local and central government. IT is the key enabler in fighting tax evasion, with £900 million earmarked for the Inland Revenue to enable them to claw back £7 billion in lost tax revenues.
At a local level, local authorities borrowing against future business rates income will benefit the regional economies but it would have provided more stability in funding had they been permitted to borrow against the more stable future council tax income.
Above all, a private sector-led recovery will depend on further removing SMEs from taxation and reducing or removing other costs completely. It is important that the current spending cuts and efficiency measures are not presented in isolation – they need to be supplemented by further, bolder policies to remove red tape for small businesses, open book accounting on government contracts and reform on late payment. Without this continued support, job creation and the much lauded private sector-driven recovery – particularly within small and medium-sized businesses – will be severely undermined.
Here’s to a prosperous 2011.
Head of Research & Content
The National Computing Centre
Download the whole issue as a PDF: ITadviser, Issue 64, Winter 2010
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