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Westminster View: Tory #DigitalFail

Chi Onwurah | June 19, 2015
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Chi Onwurah spells out some tests by which to measure the new government's digital claims.

And now it is adding social media to all the data it has on you. We need some principles and fast.

Now you might argue that the Personalised Health and Care 2020 report published late last year in the long wake of the disaster might provide such principles. And indeed it does talk of a framework to "build and sustain public trust". But it is only for health data and it revolves around a new National Data Guardian for health and care, (the excellent) Dame Fiona Caldicott. Why then in yesterday's announcement on "using technology, data and information to transform the delivery of England's health and social care services" is Caldicott not mentioned once? Nor for that matter are privacy or consent

The third example comes appropriately from HMRC. The new marriage tax allowance was in the news recently because of 'IT fiasco' according to the Daily Mail. As is often the case, this is not an IT fiasco, but a system doing what it was told to do by its designers, ie to verify online identities for a digital-only service. The problem stems from a failure to identify who the main group of 'service users' are - not in turns out young, digitally driven newly weds but low income pensioners. That is one of the demographics least likely to be comfortable online, so the fact that the tax break is only available online with support for it effectively only online [the telephone help line involving waiting periods of 45 minutes] meant that hundreds of financially struggling pensioners are left throwing themselves against the digital by default barricades. Not an outcome to improve the reputation of government services or technology.

Tory failure on data and inclusion show they have yet to learn from their failures in the last Parliament.


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