UK government cuts back on IT spending

The UK government coalition has announced plans to cut £95 million from its IT spending and scrapped education body BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) as part of the wider economies it’s making.  

The move forms part of its attempts to save £6.24 billion in its first round of cuts.

Chancellor George Osborne said in his speech this morning that “urgent action” was needed to repair the deficit. The savings will include “nearly £2 billion  from IT programmes, suppliers and property.”

Lib Dem deputy David Laws said: “These are only the first steps which we will need to take in order to put our public finances back in shape.”

BECTA chairman Graham Badman and chief executive Stephen Crowne said the decision was disappointing.  The body has 240 employees at its Coventry HQ.

In a statement, the quango, which costs the Government around  £65-80 million a year, said: “BECTA is a very effective organisation with an international reputation, delivering valuable services to schools, colleges and children. Our procurement arrangements save the schools and colleges many times more than BECTA costs to run.

“Our top priorities now are to make sure we have an orderly and fair process for staff, and that as far as possible schools, colleges and children continue to benefit from the savings and support that BECTA has provided. We will be talking to Government departments and our other stakeholders including the industry about this.”

Other projects looking uncertain also include Gordon Brown’s plans to supply free laptops and broadband access for 270,000 low-income families, which began earlier this year.

When we called up for more information the Treasury press office told us they were unable to provide any further comment to the speeches already made. We wonder if they’ve already had their PCs taken away?