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Government delays digital strategy until EU referendum

The government has drafted Whitehall’s digital strategy – but will delay it until after local elections and the EU referendum, according to Ed Vaizey

The government is postponing the release of its digital strategy until after the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU).

Speaking in a select committee hearing, culture secretary and digital economy minister Ed Vaizey said the digital strategy was ready to be published – but will have to wait until after the referendum and local elections are held.

“The digital strategy has been drafted and is ready to go, but we’re looking for a slot from Downing Street,” Vaizey said.

“We are obviously affected by purdah, local elections and the EU referendum. I imagine it’ll probably be published after the referendum when the decks have been cleared and we can move forward.”

Vaizey added that the strategy “will give a good overview of what the government is doing in terms of digital”.

He also announced that the government is working to establish a digital engagement council, “which covers all the issues to do with digital inlusion, from older people through to people who are socially excluded” and added that the government also needs to work on having a more holistic view on digital technology.

“Government isn’t co-ordinated enough when it comes to digital. We need to pause over the summer and have a good look at how we engage digitally,” he said.

Read more about digital government

GDS plans for £450m

Earlier in 2016, the government opened a consultation asking industry and the public on their views on government’s digital plans. At the time, Vaizey said he wanted the UK to be a “Tech Nation”.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is due to publish a strategy on how it plans to spend the £450m it received in the spending review. The strategy was first promised to be published around Christmas 2015, and was then tipped to be launched at GDS’s annual Sprint conference.

While some details on GDS’s plans for its budget have been revealed, such as an expected efficiency saving of £3.5bn on the back of the cash – £1.3bn in savings from the government as a platform (GaaP) programme, and £1.1bn in savings each from CTS and Verify – the finer details yet to be announced.  

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