The Conservative party has vowed to halt new IT projects, and slow down existing “underperforming contracts”, if it wins this year’s general election.

During a press conference, shadow chancellor George Osborne vowed to reverse the planned one percentage point increase in national insurance, which was announced in last week’s Budget.

The reversal on the rise would be funded by spending cuts, he said, particularly targeting IT. Limiting recruitment, reducing property costs, and cutting discretionary spending including on consultants, would also play a part.

There would also be a renegotiation of contracts with existing government suppliers, he said.

The Conservatives commissioned Sir Peter Gershon and Dr Martin Read, both of whom have conducted efficiency reviews for Labour in recent years, to assess potential savings. They found that up to £12 billion could be cut in a short space of time from costs.

But Osborne was unable to give details when journalists asked him what cuts would be made, the Guardian newspaper reported. He said he was unaware of the terms on the IT contracts, insisting Gershon and Read had taken on board their extensive knowledge of the deals when calculating potential cuts.

The Conservatives made no new pledge on specific IT schemes, but in the past have said they would scrap NHS patient records under the £12.7 billion National Programme for IT, as well as cutting the £5 billion ID cards programme.

They have also vowed to open the market for government IT contracts to small suppliers, while capping most IT schemes at £100 million.

Meanwhile, the outgoing chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Edward Leigh, today issued an open letter to his successor, urging the government to correct its "particularly weak" IT procurement skills. Making a fundamental change in that area, he said, was crucial to generating savings.