Socitm has expressed some serious reservations about the Digital Britain report “underplaying” the role of local government.

It also questioned the “adequacy” of proposals to make sure 90 per cent of the population received next generation broadband.

Nevertheless, the public sector IT managers’ organisation did praise many of the proposals in the government’s report, including the recognition of the role government would play in stimulating the infrastructure.

In a newly issued policy briefing on the report, Socitm said it had “reservations” about the preparations advised for the next generation broadband rollout, as well as the “limited reference to the opportunities for facilitating wholesale markets in broadband aggregation and provision”.

The report “overlooks” the role played by suppliers to public sector in stimulating “the development of digital life skills”, Socitm said. It also overlooked the opportunity for new infrastructure to help improve local public services, where “the majority of citizens’ and businesses’ transactions take place”.

It was wrong to suggest that telecoms bills had fallen significantly, when new ways of connecting had increased rollout costs, Socitm stated.

The government needed to take better steps to create a “culture” where online services are taken up, it said, and needed to work on accessibility.

The criticisms are likely to pile further pressure on the government, following a mixed reaction when the report was published last month.

Socitm did make clear, though, that it supported many elements of the Digital Britain report, including its commitment to the broadband rollout and the “digital switchover” of public services. Socitm also acknowledged the support for governmental cloud computing.

It welcomed the timing of the report, praising the recognition of IT in helping the country out of a recession. But it said the government’s own procurement needed to improve, and should involve publishing Gateway Reviews and making it easier to abandon failing IT projects early on.

Former Socitm president Richard Steel resigned from his role as CIO at Newham Council today. Read the full story here.