What the Osborne Budget means for IT

Another day, another Budget. Tomorrow sees the announcement of the government’s emergency Budget- it feels like we’ve been having these a lot lately.

But there are a lot of IT projects and IT strategies that are going to be affected by George Osborne’s first experience of opening that red box.

Everyone in the public sector will be particularly focused on the outcome. The new government has already announced reviews of major IT projects and just last week transferred Whitehall buying agency, the Office of Government Commerce, from the Treasury to the Cabinet Office, where it comes under the auspices of minister Francis Maude.

Remember that Maude was responsible for the Tory IT strategy, and wrote in these pages ahead of the election that, “much of the Conservative ICT agenda is centred in improving the management of the existing ICT estate, not buying more of it”.

Already two senior Whitehall CIOs have announced their departure to the private sector – one of whom told Computer Weekly privately that it is “a good time to be getting out”.

The publication of the University College London review of NHS Summary Care Records last week may be a precursor to a root-to-branch overhaul of that troubled project – and it won’t be the only one.

The public sector IT landscape in 12 months’ time will be very different from today.

But it’s not only government IT professionals that will be anxious about the Budget. Financial services reform will have a knock-on effect; a possible increase in VAT will hit the retail sector; and technology entrepreneurs, investors and start-ups will be looking closely at likely increases in capital gains tax.

So, there is a lot riding on Osborne’s announcements, but at least it will start to bring some clarity to the new environment in which everyone in business and government will have to exist. This is very much the start of the ‘more for less’ era for IT.