Government to axe wasteful websites

Cabinet Office ministers have pledged to scrap hundreds of unnecessary and expensive Government web sites and slash the cost of the remaining sites to save millions of pounds.

Of the 820 existing Government-funded web sites, around 75 per cent will be shut down completely, and the remaining few will be heavily scrutinised to make sure they are providing tax payers with value for money. At the very least they will have their budgets cropped by 50 per cent.

No new web sites will be built unless they pass through a stringent exceptions process.

A report published today by the Central Office for Information (COI) found that, across Government, £94 million was spent on the construction, set-up and running costs of just 46 websites with £32 million more lavished on staff costs for those sites in 2009-10.

The most expensive site was run by UK Trade and Investment which has cost the British tax payer a shocking £11.78 per visit - taking into account the amount of money it had taken to build and maintain, and the number of punters it had attracted.

The clamp-down has unearthed a number of cases which could have come directly from an episode of the BBC's political comedy show The Thick of It.

Apparently, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Energy Saving Trust were spending a fortune trying to outbid each other for Google search terms.

Our favourite, however, is the Potato Marketing Board's 'Love Chips' campaign competing with the Department of Health’s Change4Life campaign on healthy lifestyle.

You really couldn't make it up.