Three quarters of government websites to be axed

The UK government plans to scrap 75% of its 820 websites, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude announced yesterday, and to cut the cost of any remaining sites by a half.

Maude said that the previous government had failed to deliver on its 2006 promise to reduce the number of public sector websites, which at the time stood at 794. "The days of ‘vanity’ sites are over,” he said. “It is not good enough to have websites which do not deliver the high quality services which people expect and deserve.”

His comments coincided with the publication of a report from the Central Office of Information (COI) on the cost and popularity of 46 of the government’s most significant sites. The data behind the report was also published on data.gov.uk.

The most expensive was direct.gov.uk, an information portal for citizens, which cost £26 million to build. But it was also the most visited, with 8 million visitors per month on average, and among the most highly rated, with 79% of surveyed visitors saying they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the site.

The most expensive per visitor were uktradeinvest.gov.uk at £11.78 per visit and HM Revenue and Customs’ businesslink.gov.uk, at £2.15 per visit. The least highly rated site was that of the Department of Work and Pensions, more than a quarter of visitors to which said they were very dissatisfied with the experience and which cost £820,000 to construct.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media (now Bonhill Group plc) from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The...

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