The media have clocked all the good jokes, please see for example How George Osborne's Budget jokes cost Britain £81m.
All po-faced, they say: "While Tory MPs cheered a series of one-liners aimed at Ed Miliband and Labour, taxpayers will be covering the bills". Taxpayers cover the bills whenever politicians open their mouths. Yesterday's announcements were no different.
And while they were busy being all reproving, the Puritan press missed the bad jokes, see particularly p.27:
|1.76 Budget 2015 announces that the digital ambition will extend beyond central government and arms-length bodies, to consider local services. HM Treasury, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Government Digital Service will collaborate with partners in local government, as the sector develops a set of proposals that will enable more customer-focussed, digitally-enabled and efficient local services in time to inform future budget allocations.|
1.77 In this Parliament the government has delivered significant savings from centralising the procurement of goods and services. Budget 2015 announces that, following a successful trial, the government will implement ‘GOV.UK Verify’ – a new way for people to prove their identity online when using government services – across central government. This means that departments will use the same tool for their digital services, reducing duplication. Further, to prevent individual departments paying different amounts to either build their own data centres or outsource this service, the government will create a joint venture to host departments’ non-cloud based servers, which could save up to £100 million.
|1.108 Building on these foundations, Budget 2015 announces that the government will transform the tax system over the next Parliament by introducing digital tax accounts, removing the need for annual tax returns. By the end of the next Parliament over 50 million individuals and small businesses will be able to see and manage their tax affairs online.|
We have noted this government's green ink fascination with Estonia before, please see for example Francis Maude seeks future in Estonia and RIP IDA – The Road to Estonia.
Estonia provides all or most of its public services on-line. So we are to have digital-by-default in the UK.
Estonia only needs one website. So we are to have one website in the UK for all of central government and for all of our 450 or so local authorities (para.1.76 above), never mind the fact that the entire population of Estonia is little bigger than the London Borough of Ealing.
Estonia relies on issuing everyone with a central government ID. So we are to have GOV.UK Verify (RIP) in the UK (para.1.77 above):
Estonians can complete their tax returns in 19 seconds. So we are to have digital tax accounts (para.1.108 above) in the UK:
There will be all sorts of promises about the security of these systems. You can't put them in the bank but never mind, the Chancellor must have his little joke, let's go all the way, Tallinn here we come, for "Estonia", read "the UK": Estonia hit by 'Moscow cyber war'.