2021 Spending Review – Where the Digital Money Goes


Money for digital technology in healthcare grabbed the headlines as the government’s spending review approached, but the documents describe commitments and vague indications of funding for digital across Whitehall and in local government.

While HM Treasury’s announcement selected £ 2.1bn for digital in the NHS as one of the highlights for the next three years, the full fall budget and expenditure review breakdown contains a wide range of plans for other areas of public service.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (pictured) made no specific mention of digital in his speech, but the plans make repeated references to digital initiatives across government and frequently highlight the importance of spending on cybersecurity .

It reflects a new development rather than a new rise in the importance of digital investments in the public sector.

Health care

While the £ 2.1bn allocation appears in the broader Department of Health and Welfare (DHSC) provision, it makes no specific reference to the latter. Instead, the brief description says the money is “for an innovative use of digital technology to keep hospitals and other healthcare organizations as connected and efficient as possible, freeing up valuable time for NHS staff. and ensuring the best care for patients wherever they are “.

This implies the availability of additional resources for existing initiatives and the possibility for DHSC to free up money for new projects and to explore new possibilities of using the technology.


The Department for Work and Pensions is the other recipient of large-scale funds specified for digital spending, also receiving £ 2.6 billion “to support benefit delivery and transform the way clients interact with the system social protection “.

Again, there is no sign that the money is tied to specific projects, but it does include £ 310million in new resource spending and £ 213million in new capital investment – around 20% of the total, which suggests that most will go to existing operations.


HM Revenue and Customs is getting £ 277million to transform the way it delivers IT services, with a focus on opportunities for small businesses and more technology innovation. This is in addition to the £ 135million he received for this purpose in last year’s short-term spending review.

The focus is on security with the allocation of £ 468million over three years to strengthen its cyber defenses, reduce the risk of system failure and support the further digitization of the tax system.

Under the auspices of the HMRC, the Valuation Office Agency is due to receive more than £ 500million, with HM Treasury stressing the need for it to upgrade its digital capabilities.

Cabinet office

There are no details on digital in the ministry’s regulation beyond the lines that it should provide funding for the government digital service (GDS) to maintain and develop information services, including GOV .UK, and a commitment of an unspecified amount for the development of the One Login service on which GDS works.

Local government and DLUH

With a pledge of £ 1.3bn per year from the Treasury, the local government has £ 85.8m earmarked for cybersecurity.

This is complemented by a £ 65million allocation to the Department of Upgrading, Housing and Communities to improve the planning regime through a new digital system to ensure more certainty and better outcomes for the environment, growth and design quality.


The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will receive £ 100million to support improvements to its technology platform and cybersecurity infrastructure.


The Department for International Trade has been promised more than £ 45million over the entire period for the digital transformation of its export support services, which will be delivered through an extension of its previous system for EU trade to cover all markets.

Lawyers departments

The document says that part of the £ 2.4 billion allocated to the judicial officer sector over the next three years is intended to cover the Crown Prosecution Service’s investments in digital innovation.

National cybersecurity program

A total of £ 32.6 billion will be invested in cybersecurity and legacy information technology during the spending review period, with a focus on improving government cybersecurity. Further details on the strategy will be released soon.

Defense and security

Spending for this sector was effectively fixed in last year’s review with the provision of over £ 24bn, with digital warfare and improved cyber capabilities among the areas identified for spending.

Veterans Office

OVA, a Cabinet Office organization, will receive £ 5million over 2022-2023 for research on issues such as new technologies enabling injured, injured and sick veterans to rebuild their lives; data and digital projects to explore better use of technology for health.


The National Savings and Investment Bank will receive an as yet unspecified amount of the allocation for small departments and independent organizations to become a digital self-service business.

Image by Chris McAndrew, CC BY 3.0

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