Government

CIO Jury: Has Blair been good for IT?

IT bosses give their verdict on Labour's record since coming to power

Government policy since Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Labour Party came to power in 1997 has done little to help the IT industry and those running IT departments, according to UK bosses.

The verdict comes in the same week that Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown delivered his 10th Budget, in which he took away with one hand - by controversially scrapping the tax breaks for Home Computing schemes - and gave with the other - by extending R&D tax credits for small companies.

More than half (seven) of silicon.com's 12-man CIO Jury IT user panel said 'no' when asked if government policy since 1997 has benefited IT departments and IT bosses in any way.

Phil Young, head of IT operations at Amtrak Express Parcels, said tax breaks on capital investment in IT equipment in the early years did have some positive impact but hit out at the failure of the government to support an environment that nurtures UK growth in new technologies.

He said: "The 'brain drain' so freely talked about in the 1990s is still unfortunately a reality and time will only tell where this will leave the UK in the global market place."

Luke Mellors, IT director at The Dorchester Hotel, agreed that government has not stimulated IT development, which has left the UK lagging far behind other nations in developing and producing new technologies, which itself has an impact on the availability and cost of IT to businesses.

He also criticised the burden of red-tape IT bosses now have to deal with. Mellors said: "Legislation has been introduced that deals with the fears of IT evolution and not the practicality of it. This has made companies spend a great deal of money on compliance to these regulations."

In the public sector Richard Steel, head of ICT at the London Borough of Newham, said there have been only minimal benefits as a result of government policy.

He said: "The advances we have seen are no more than we should expect in any advanced economy. In quite a few areas, government policy, or lack thereof, in areas such as standards, or contradictory or duplicate initiatives, has impeded progress."

But Andy Pepper, director of business information systems at Tetley, said there have been many positives as a result of government policy since 1997.

He said: "Acceleration of broadband coverage has made delivery of services easier and on the economic side inflation is low, employment levels are OK and consumer spending is mainly buoyant so business is stable.

His only gripe was personal taxation, to which he simply said: "Aaaaarrrgh!"

Today's CIO Jury was...

Alastair Behenna, CIO, Harvey Nash
Ben Booth, European CTO, Mori
Michael Elliot, IT director, Hasbro
Nicholas Evans, European IT director, Key Equipment Financing
Kevin Fitzpatrick, CTO, Manpower
John Keeling, director of computer services, John Lewis
Christopher Linfoot, IT director, LDV Vans
Luke Mellors, IT director, The Dorchester Hotel
Andy Pepper, director of business information systems, Tetley
Jacques Rene, IT director, Airclaims
Richard Steel, head of ICT, London Borough of Newham
Phil Young, head of IT operations, Amtrak Express Parcels

If you are a CIO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and you want to be part of silicon.com's CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at editorial@silicon.com.