GDS Gets £450m Funding As Government Earmarks £1.8bn For Digital Transformation

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Spending Review and Autumn Statement: Troubled GDS is given vote of confidence as Chancellor also makes digital pledges for tax, health and security

The government has pledged to invest £1.8 billion in ‘digital transformation’ and will give the Government Digital Service (GDS) an additional £450 million, as revealed in the Chancellor George Osborne’s 2015 Autumn Statement and Spending Review.

GDS has endured a difficult few months following the departure of its head Mike Bracken and a number of other key figures, leading to questions about the future of the service, which launched Gov.UK in 2012 as a hub for the government’s online resources.

The spending review says the additional funding will allow GDS to develop common platforms, including Gov.UK Pay, which will allow businesses and citizens to pay online for central government services by 2020. This includes passports, driving licenses and other motoring fees.

Government Digital Services

Parliament Government London © anshar Shutterstock 2012The money will also be used to advance the Common Technology Services programme, which hopes to open up government technology contracts to more suppliers, fostering innovation and saving money.

It is unclear whether the £450 million will come out of the £1.8 billion earmarked for digital transformation however. But this pot will be used to overhaul the tax system, with digital accounts provided for businesses, the self-employed and landlords. Free software will be provided to help those without digital skills, although those in employment or pensioners will not be affected.

Along with other reforms and tax avoidance measures, it is expected the move could save £3 billion a year as HMRC turns into one of “the most advanced tax administrations in the world.”

The government is also to invest £1 billion over the next five years on “better connected services” for patients and doctors while a £10 million expansion of the Healthcare Innovation Test Bed programme will test new digital technology in the NHS.

The Chancellor also confirmed plans to fund new capabilities for the National Crime Agency (NCA) to help it cope with the threat of cybercrime, with funding for cyber capabilities doubling to £1.9 billion over the course of the parliament.

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