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Osborne seeks billions from digital transformation

05/12/14

Cabinet Office to boost the uptake of digital public services by 10 percentage points in 2016

George Osborne - photo by Paul ClarkeGeorge Osborne is pinning his hopes for drastically reducing the size of the public sector on a massive leap in the usage of online public services. In his autumn statement this week, the chancellor announced that the government will seek new efficiency savings adding up to £10bn by 2017-18. "This will be led by the Cabinet Office, working closely with HM Treasury and departments," the statement says.

The programme includes "a range of digital transformation measures, including increasing the digital uptake of public services among those online by 10 percentage points in 2016" as well as driving down the cost of IT contract renewals over the next parliament.

Meanwhile, public bodies can expect new pressure to release surplus office space and other estate: the statement says the public sector will release enough land for "up to 150,000 homes" by 2020.

As expected, the statement emphasises greater integration of public sector under the new spending regime. Announcing that the government "is exploring a range of further reforms for the next parliament to drive out waste and inefficiency and improve outcomes" it cites initiatives such as the Tri-borough collaboration in London. The delayed Better Care Fund also receives a mention. "Further integration of services will be delivered by developing and extending the principles underpinning the Troubled Families programme approach to other groups of people with multiple needs," the statement says.

Local Government Association chair David Sparks said that the statement confirms that local services will face no further cuts next year on top of those already announced. But he warned: "Further reductions without radical reform will have a detrimental impact on people's quality of life."

Pictured: George Osborne by Paul Clarke © | paulclarke.com

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