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Digital projects take shares of Budget funds

11/03/20

Mark Say Managing Editor

A handful of digital projects have won financial support as part of the Government’s allocation of funds under the Budget announced today.

Rishi Sunak

HM Treasury has provided details of the support in the document published alongside Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s (pictured) speech to the House of Commons, pointing to initiatives around land registration, victim support, environmental protection and national insurance payments for armed forces veterans.

HM Treasury has provided details of the support in the document published alongside Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s speech to the House of Commons, pointing to initiatives around land registration victim support, environmental protection and national insurance payments for armed forces veterans.

The largest pledge of £42 million goes to HM Land Registry to support its ongoing project to digitise land registration in England and Wales, which the Treasury says should enable further innovation in the property market.

It comes as part of a larger £392 million pot to support the agency’s transition from being a trading fund – as which it has had to raise its own revenue – to part of central government

Justice hub

Other moves include the allocation of £15 million to support the victims of crime through the criminal justice system in England and Wales, one element of which is the creation of a new digital hub to make the process easier to understand.

Concerns over crime have also fed into the pledge of action to fight waste crime, partly through funding a digital waste tracking system to provide better data on how it is transported. It will also provide £2 million to support new approaches to tackling fly tipping, such as through improving evidence on where it takes place and the best ways to deter it.

The Government is also planning to launch a £5 million programme to create digital tools to increase efficiencies and improve administration of general grants, which are awarded to an organisation for an agreed purpose and are considered the category with the highest risk of being spent ineffectively.

The document also pointed to plans for a digital service to help employers of armed forces veterans provide a holiday from national insurance payments – in line with Government policy – over the first year of their employment. This is scheduled to be available to employers from April 2022.

In addition, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is to lead in the development a digital service to provide businesses with tailored information on appropriate sources of support.

Digital identity effort

Along with these is a reference to the work of the Digital Identity Unit to create a digital identity market for use in public and private sector services. It makes no reference to any future the GOV.UK Verify service, the funding for which is due to end at the turn of the financial year.

Underpinning the plans is the Government’s programme to strengthen digital connectivity around the country. The Budget document points to the £5 billion commitment to support the provision of gigabit-capable broadband in the most difficult to reach areas, and announces the next seven areas to receive shares of the Local Full Fibre Networks Challenge Fund: North of Tyne (£12 million), South Wales (£12 million), Tay Cities (£6.7 million), Pembrokeshire (£4 million), Plymouth (£3 million), Essex and Hertfordshire (£2.1 million) and East Riding of Yorkshire (£1 million).

It also says the Shared Rural Network agreement has been finalised and will involve the Government committing up to £510 million of funding to be more than matched by industry. This should ensure that 95% of the UK’s landmass will have high quality 4G coverage by 2025.

Further funding initiatives could emerge in the new Comprehensive Spending Review, scheduled to emerge in July and produce more detail on plans for public services and investments.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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