Digital Minister: We’ll Cut £35bn In Costs By 2011

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Updated: Tom Watson has announced how smart use of IT has enabled the government to save £26.5bn across government whilst also defending his own spending


Minister for Digital Engagement Tom Watson has laid out how technology is being used to improve government efficiency while also defending his own expenses claims.

In a statement released on Thursday to mark the publication of the Transformational Government Annual Report, Watson outlined the billions of pounds saved by using IT to improve public services over the last year.

“This Government has achieved so much by using technology to drive the reform of public services, with increased efficiency and more freedom for people to shape services around their lives rather than government convenience,” he said. “We have already achieved £26.5 billion of efficiency savings – and will save a further £35 billion by 2011.”

Savings highlighted in the Transformational Government Annual Report, include £50 million at the Department for Work and Pensions, with a total of £100million expected by the end of 2008/09, the government claims.

“Around 13 million motorists renewed their car tax online, 10 people a second filed their tax returns on the internet, 2.7 million driving tests were booked online and more than 15 million people visited uk every month for help and guidance,” according to the statement.

But the publication of the government’s claims that it has improved the ability of citizens to interact with the web comes during a week when ministers from both parties are being accused of mismanaging and even abusing expenses claims; an issue that could be improved by putting the expenses claims online as soon as they are made according to Tory leader David Cameron, and backed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“I met the Shadow Cabinet as a whole and told them the immediate action I’m going to ask all my MPs to take. All expenses must be published online,” Cameron wrote in a blog posting this week.

Reports in The Daily Telegraph about MPs expenses have included references to Watson’s purchase of a property and other claims.

But Watson has made a specific denial about claims relating to the property.”I didn’t claim for the legal fees associated with purchasing the Freehold on a shared property in London,” he told eWeek Europe.

This story has been updated with a response from Tom Watson