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LibDems promise investment to get public services online



Election manifesto first to include digital government - and ‘hyperfast’ broadband

The Liberal Democrats may be extreme outsiders to play a role in - let alone to form - the next government, but the party's manifesto is the first of the national contenders’ to set out a serious digital agenda. Among its pledges are investments in digital public services and an attempt to outbid rivals on promises of broadband speed.

According to the manifesto, a LibDem government would “initiate a spending review after the general election focusing on delivering efficiency, funding proven spend-to-save initiatives, pursuing local and community integration to drive efficiency, and investing in technology to get public services and frontline staff online”.

On broadband, it promises a “hyperfast, fibre optic broadband across the UK”. By 2020 this would provide speeds of 2Gbps or more, with fibre to the premises (FTP) as standard and unlimited usage by 2020 across the whole of the UK. Innovative solutions to ensure the provision of high speed broadband across rural areas would receive an investment of £2 billion.

Meanwhile, central government public procurement policy would be used as “a tool of local growth and community development by, for example, purchasing from diverse sources and using local labour, goods and services, and encouraging local government to do the same”.

Open data

In a nod to open data, the manifesto promises to “build on the success of crime maps to use data more effectively to reduce crime and improve policing, including exploring the feasibility of mandatory reporting of fraud losses by individual credit and debit card providers.”

Other public databases would expose rogue landlords and UK based arms dealers. The ministerial veto on release of information under the Freedom of Information Act would be abolished.

A LibDem government would introduce “a digital bill of rights that protects people’s powers over their own information, supports individuals over large corporations, and preserves the neutrality of the internet”. It would also “roll back state surveillance powers by ending the indiscriminate bulk collection of communications data, bulk hacking, and the collection of internet connection records.”



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