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Matt Hancock takes digital brief at DCMS

18/07/16

Minister expands digital responsibilities in taking over role from Ed Vaizey

Responsibility for the Government’s overall digital strategy has been passed to Matt Hancock, as he takes on the role vacated by Ed Vaizey at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in part of Prime Minister Theresa May’s reshuffle.

Matthew-HancockIt has come shortly after Hancock departed his Cabinet Office ministerial role, which has been taken on by Ben Gummer, and effectively extends his digital responsibilities beyond those of central government’s transformation.

The DCMS position takes in the wider digital landscape in supporting the country’s economic infrastructure, in areas such as making the superfast broadband available nationwide. This has proved problematical for the Government, which in March backed away from its target of providing the “final 5%” of the country with 24Mbps coverage, indicating that some areas will have to make do with 10Mbps.

Hancock’s move raises questions about the resurrection of the Government Digital Strategy. It was initially due to be published around the time of the Spending Review late last year, alongside one from the Cabinet Office focused on public services.

Both were placed on hold, following which Vaizey launched a fresh consultation. The arrival of Hancock at DCMS, and the fact that he brings an understanding of digital issues, raises the possibility of his experience in the Cabinet Office influencing the shape of the DCMS document – when it emerges – or even a close alignment between the two.

Parliament's Business, Innovation and Skills Committee has published a report saying the Government should provide more clarity on the regulation of the digital economy, with users more involved and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills at the front of the debate.

It also calls for an explanation of how the Brexit vote will affect digital strategy, and for more coordination between departments on innovations to support public sector efficiency.

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

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