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Tories to cut IT to keep National Insurance down

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The shadow chancellor today announced cuts in large IT programmes would form part of a £6bn public spending squeeze under a Tory government, that would be used to cancel most of a rise in national insurance planned for next year by Labour.

Under the plan to slash "without reducing the quality of front line services", George Osborne announced:

  • New IT projects would be shelved
  • Ongoing project would be cancelled if they were not delivering value
  • Supplier contracts would be renegotiated
  • Discretionary spending on IT services would be cut

But he was unable to cite specific projects, as opposition parties are not allowed to inspect government contracts.

Despite this, the Conservatives have already pledged to scrap ID Cards and the National Identity Register, as well as ContactPoint, the national database of children's details, which is up and running.

They have also promised to review the forthcoming Interception Modernisation Programme, which the Home Office has estimated at £2bn over ten years. The security establishment would be very resistant to any cut to the project, however.

Meanwhile cuts to the £12bn National Programme for IT, one of the world's largest public IT projects, would not return to the Treasury, as the Tories plan to ringfence the NHS budget.

The government immediately critised the announcement as lacking substance.

"George Osborne's savings are so flaky, he's admitted he doesn't even know which department is going to pay what," the Times reports a spokeswoman for Alistair Darling said.

Osbornes's plan is based on recommendations from Sir Peter Gershon and Dr Martin Read. Gershon is a former head of the Office of Government Commerce, and Read the former chief executive of LogicaCMG.®

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