Yes, minister

It is reassuring to see that the ironies of Whitehall are still being developed by the latest political incumbents. Just as the previous government came up with such inanities as ‘avoidable contact’ and ‘transformational government’, the UK Budget for 2012 reveals in Section 1.224 page 42 of the Red Book that “the Government […] will transform the quality of digital public services by committing that from 2014 new online services will only go live if the responsible minister can demonstrate that they themselves can use the service successfully. The Government will also ensure that all information is published on a single ’gov.uk’ domain name by the end of 2012 and will move to a ‘digital by default’ approach to its transactional services by 2015”.

The appropriateness of a sign-off test being carried out by a minister, who is probably Oxbridge educated for all their digital illiteracy, and on an application such Universal Credit, which is unlikely to ever apply to them is laughable to put it politely. Hadn’t the thought occurred to the mandarins who wrote this budget this that a better approach might be to involve the ‘third sector’ and its clients at the outset to determine the deliverability of such applications? I’m sure the Citizens Advice Bureaux of this country would be happy to be involved in such a process that would ultimately save them resolving issues that will hit their desks in the future, as a result of a minister getting involved in something they have little or poor cognizance of.

Overall it was nice to see despite the expected unjoined-up-ness and rag-bag of a budget that humour is still extractable from it.

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