The government today said it would axe a whopping 551 of its websites to make access to information easier for citizens and businesses.

The cuts came as part of the launch of a progress report on 'Transformational government: enabled by technology', which said that only 26 of the websites examined so far are certain to be retained by Government.

Information of continuing relevance from closed sites will transfer to the government’s general business website, BusinessLink. http://www.direct.gov.uk and http://www.businesslink.gov.uk.

The government stated the move was the natural next step, as citizens shift their interest to 'supersites' such as the Directgov and BusinessLink.

The transformation report is the first of its kind in Europe and sets out that transformation in government is a long-term endeavour involving tough challenges. John Suffolk, Government CIO said Wednesday: "We operate in over 140 countries, spend some £12 billion a year across the whole public sector and run many of the world's largest computer systems. The [Department of Work and Pensions] DWP makes 13 millions benefits payments electronically every week."

The government also said use of its IT provision has now reached a critical mass: "This report demonstrates how millions of people are benefiting from our use of technology everyday, the minister for transformational government, Pat McFadden said. “We are dealing decisively with the proliferation of government websites by getting rid of more than 500. We are ensuring that the quality of our services will not be affected by these changes."

The report points to what it said are “hundreds of millions” of pounds being saved by successful IT projects that receive little public attention. It said a Ministry of Defence effort known as 'Project Home' has revolutionised everything from how staff share secure information, where they sit and how their teams are structured. Transport for London, meanwhile, has saved 30% saved on human resources through a shared services centre.

To build on this success over the long term it also highlighted that more than 7,000 members have been recruited in the first full year of the new Government IT Profession.