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Scottish Budget increases digital strategy funding



Money for digital in public services to focus on courts, and accompanied by commitment for 100% broadband coverage

The Scottish Government has pushed up its projected spending on digital for the following two years.

Its new national Budget, published yesterday, includes the provision of £25.2 million for 2018-19, up from £23.9 million in this financial year.

The move is accompanied by a reduction in the associated capital spend from £112.1 million to just £34.2 million as infrastructure projects are completed.

It has been accompanied by a promise of £600 million to make superfast broadband available across the whole country by 2021.

While the Budget document does not provide a breakdown of how the digital strategy money will be spent, it places most of the public service focus on the courts and justice system.

Evidence sharing

It says there are plans to develop a new digital evidence sharing capability as part of a new model for criminal court procedures, and talks about “placing digital innovation at the centre of service delivery to improve access to justice, support quicker outcomes and minimise physical appearance in courts”.

There are plans for digital solutions in casework, communications with witnesses, and to protect vulnerable witnesses and children. These will extend to the Office of the Public Guardian.

The document also touches on developing the functionality of the core IT systems used by Scotland’s insolvency service, Accountant in Bankruptcy Priorities, and to continue funding of the VisitScotland website. In addition, the National Records Service will follow up the delivery of its Digital Preservation Service last year by beginning to automate the process of preserving records.

Broadband boost

The promise of broadband funding reflects the Scottish Government’s aim to extend coverage fully into rural areas and the islands under its Reaching 100% programme. The £600,000 capital investment package will be made available over the next four financial years, as gap funding to find suppliers to connect as many premises as possible with 30Mbps connections.

Rural Economy and Connectivity Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Building on the success of the Digital Scotland programme, we will deliver a future proofed, national fibre network that will place rural Scotland among the best connected places anywhere in Europe.

“I am confident that the scale of our investment, and of our ambition, will attract interest from a wide range of telecoms suppliers across the UK and Europe.”

Image by glasgow's finest, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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