Labour unveils 'Digital Britain 2015' plan... essentially the same as now

The Labour Party has said it will retain much of the Coalition's Government Digital Service's (GDS) if it regains power in the general election scheduled for next May.

The promise was made as the party launched its 'digital government review' process at a Central London event - or, to use its branding, 'Digital Britain 2015.'

The party's Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, Chi Onwura, claims the plans will offer "a framework for transforming digital government together with concrete policy proposals to make digital services work for the many."

IT site Computer Weekly last week revealed that the majority of current FDS staff are on short-term contracts that are mostly set to end within 12 months of the next election - which, critics say, could impair whoever is in power next Spring from continuing much-needed Whitehall ICT reforms.

Speaking at the event, Onwura said that Labour would look to keep many of these staff on if it does form the next government, however.

Read more: London's tech city is being eroded by "not fit for purpose" broadband, say furious startups

Onwura told reporters she wants to make the next Labour administration “the most digital government ever.”

“Governments around the world have sought to recreate the vision and skills of GDS and we recognise we will need to build on the work that GDS is doing to provide leadership, to build better services and to create a platform for those services,” she said.

“We certainly will need the skills of the excellent people that work for and with GDS, skills for which there is a great deal of competition.”

Labour's says too much of the current government's digital plans have only focused on cutting costs whereas it is offering a way to centre plans on enabling citizen access - especially to the Internet itself, which is still reportedly out of reach of perhaps 11 million UK residents.

“Our focus will be different than the current government as we seek to unleash the full potential of digital government for everyone across the country, including those currently digitally excluded... We must extend the transformation of public services to the more complex, knotty interactions with hard-to-reach groups.”

Onwura also had time for a quick dig at on-going issues with Coalition projects.

“Innovation and best practice does not just come from Whitehall - as the disastrous roll-out of Universal Credit shows, that collaborative approach is something that this government cannot accomplish."

@24n.biz

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