Government attacked for spending on iPhone apps

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that the Government has spent tens of thousands of pounds developing iPhone applications, which critics say are a costly waste of money.


A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that the  Government has spent tens of thousands of pounds developing iPhone applications.

The BBC discovered that the applications, which includes a travel advice application from the Foreign Office and a jobseekers' tool, cost from £10,000 to £40,000 each to develop, a cost footed by the taxpayer.

According to the BBC, the most expensive application was a proposed Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) application, which provides 'a masterclass for changing your wheel'.

"We want to make it as easy as possible for motorists to renew their car tax, tell us about a change of address or update their driving licence, meaning they stay safe and legal to drive," a spokesman for the DVLA told BBC News defending the iPhone application.

"This would also bring benefits for DVLA, for example by reducing the number of reminders that need to be sent out. We considered how an application could help with this but no final decisions have been taken and the app, for now, is still in development."

Job Seekers app

Other tax payer funded applications include a NHS Drinks Tracker (£10,000), NHS Quit Smoking (£10,000) and Jobcentre Plus (£32,775.)

Critics have been quick to condemn the Government over the cost of the iPhone applications. Mark Wallace, Campaign Director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, which claims to represent the tax payer, told The Daily Telegraph: "It seems many Government bodies have given in to the temptation to spend money on fashionable gimmicks at a time when they are meant to be cutting back on self-indulgent wastes of money."

"It is ridiculous not only that they are commissioning these apps but that some of them are supposedly secret on grounds of national security," said Wallace, after reports the Home Office had declined the FOI request for information on its iPhone applications, claiming security concerns: "prevent us from supplying information."

"Someone who is faced with losing their home because of high tax bills, or whose life is being ruined by crime isn’t going to get any reassurance from knowing there’s an app for that," Wallace insisted.

A Cabinet Office spokesman added: "The Government recently announced a freeze on all marketing and advertising spend for this year and this includes iPhone applications."

"While the Government wants to ensure that information and services are available in the most efficient and convenient forms, future spend on iPhone development will be subject to strict controls - only essential activity, approved by the efficiency and reform group, which is chaired by the Minister for the Cabinet Office and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, will be allowed." 

NHS iPhone Quit Smoking App

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