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TPA spin transforms Dutch iPhone “innovation” into British “waste”

Guest post by Dave Semple
(Cross-posted from Though Cowards Flinch)

Q. When is state spending considered ‘wasteful’ by the TPA?

iPhoneA. When it was instituted by a British Labour government. This is the impression one can’t fail to get when reading the following two statements by the Taxpayer’s Alliance on the subject of government-developed iPhone applications, which improve civic engagement.

April 30th, 2010, posted on Taxpayer’s Alliance website.

In the Dutch city of Eindhoven, citizens can now report broken street lights, potholes, graffiti etc. using an app on their iphones. Users can take a picture and locate the problem on GPS and maps and send it directly to the local authority so they can easily locate and solve the problem. Obviously not everyone has an iphone, but it’s a great innovation that involves citizens in looking after their community.

July 6th, 2010, statement given to media by Mark Wallace, TPA campaign director, after news leaks via FOI requests that the previous government spent £40,000 on something similar.

“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.

“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.”

The recent furore is over the government developing iPhone apps to provide DVLA services, to provide Jobcentre services and so on. Personally I think it’s a great idea – I don’t have an iPhone, but I do have a smartphone, and applications have a way of transferring across, once developed.

What I found particularly amusing about the blatantly churnalistic BBC report (some of which was cribbed direct from the wire service report by the looks of it) was this:

“By the end of May there were over 53,000 downloads of the Jobcentre Plus app, although critics have asked why someone who can afford both an iPhone and the expensive running costs would need a Jobcentre Plus app.”

Because even those who have been prudent with their savings and worked hard to amass them can be made unemployed, and even bottom of the chain workers can fit this particular bill? Nice to know what the BBC generally thinks of the unemployed though; if they have anything remotely fancy, there’s something funny going on.

Posted by Other TPA at 11:55am on 6 July 2010
Tags: BBC,TaxPayers Alliance

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