David Blackburn

Yet more good money after bad

Yet more good money after bad
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So, the government is tying the taxpayer to £11bn of new IT contracts before the election, making the Tories’ planned immediate IT cuts very expensive. Is this latest example of a scorched earth policy? Or Labour ‘getting on with the job’? With the polls narrowing, I can’t see Labour setting a fiscal booby-trap that they could well have to de-fuse. But there’s the rub. Brown scorches the turf beneath his feet as he governs: he cannot stop spending money.

An £11bn bender is irresponsible in this climate, plus Labour has a baleful record on IT contracts. It has bungled a staggering £26bn on flawed IT systems, many of which were introduced without pilot schemes. Ever the optimist, I’d hoped the government might become responsible; yet again I’ve been mugged by reality of Brown. Rushing implementation is a concern. These latest programmes are for the most part extensions of the failed NHS and MoD super-computer systems; will they be any more effective than their predecessors?

But this episode speaks more of the government’s mindset. Whatever the question, Brown’s answer is to throw good money after bad. It is scarcely credible that he can reduce the deficit within four years.