The government will announce an extension of its Information Science Initiative today to make IT available to all, but the Labour Party criticised the lateness of the move.
Roger Freeman, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, will announce the Government Online scheme, which forms part of a wider initiative to make the public aware of the benefits of IT.
Science and Technology Minister Ian Taylor said last week: 'It's indispensable that government shows business we can use IT too. I'm talking about a co-ordinated service with public access points and the use of smart cards to enable transactions.'
He said the scheme will embrace all government departments and the Department of Trade and Industry will work with organisations to introduce access points where the public could find information on tax returns, driving licences and the DSS.
Taylor said the aims of the broadened initiative were to make government more efficient, stimulate the business market and help the public realise PCs and interactive TVs should be in the home.
Labour MP Geoff Hoon said he welcomed the initiative but it was delayed.
'It was supposed to arrive before summer and in the form of a white paper rather than a green paper, which is a consultative document. We've been looking at this area for some time and produced a policy document two years ago.'
Taylor confirmed that next month the government will broaden the initiative and create a national awareness campaign. 'This will show the public the social and commercial advantages of IT,' he said.
He claimed IT would not disenfranchise poor people in the country, but admitted some people cannot afford a $500 NC. 'All the signs show that awareness of the value of computers is no longer assigned to one particular social class. That's why I'm anxious to get public access points. This isn't a random stab at the problem.'
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