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Labour plan to extend GOV.UK to local council websites




Town hall websites will be brought within the Government's platform, under cost cutting plans announced by the Labour Party in the run-up to the general election. The Opposition aims to save at least £8.6m a year by taking advantage of "huge capacity for reuse" on Whitehall's public information website.

The plan is part of a strategy to "get a better deal for taxpayers" by a range of reforms to digital government, including:

  • A review of data sharing in government to ensure Whitehall "uses individuals' data in a coherent and ethical manner";
  • Breaking up IT services into "smaller and more flexible components" to make it easier for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to bid for government contacts.

Chris Leslie, Labour's shadow Treasury chief secretary, did not put a figure on the expected savings from his party's latest "zero based review". But he said it had "identified failure by this government to meet digital targets, despite huge increases in the budget of the Government Digital Service".

Leslie added: "A Labour government will use the expiry of major government contracts to save taxpayers' money by breaking up IT services into smaller and more flexible components.

"We will commission a review of data sharing by government departments and agencies, to ensure that every adult will be able to own and have access to their public sector data."

The document describes how councils typically deliver 400-600 services and "have accumulated IT systems over the years to handle the challenges of each service".

It adds: "These are frequently bespoke systems built for a particular service and often procured on long term contracts.

"Some challenges and service needs are common to almost every local authority. And there will be similar services that need to be provided, which could often be based on a similar platform."

A similar platform-sharing exercise in New Zealand government "estimates saving up to NZ$50,000 on each web project", the review says.

It concludes: "With the right framework and incentives in place, savings could be achieved for local authorities and other organisations from saving IT platforms."

A total £2.2bn is spent on ICT across the 353 English local authorities, with nearly £600m spent on hardware and software, Labour found.


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