THE Scottish Government has spent more than £5.3 million developing a set of new websites.
The total bill for creating the new version of the gov.scot website, still in the beta testing stage, as well as developing mygov.scot for access to public services and creating a “shared digital ecosystem of common processes and technologies” for all parts of the Scottish Government is £5,323,748.
Opposition parties criticised the spending when local services are facing cuts, but the Government defended the bill and claimed the move would reduce the costs of services in future.
A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “This is an extraordinary rise in costs at a time when local services are facing £500 million worth of cuts under the SNP.
“The SNP Government has a history of huge overspends on IT systems and this looks like the latest failure.
“There was a shambolic overhaul of the NHS 24 system, a multimillion-pound overspend involving the police IT system, and separate chaos that left farmers without vital payments.
“This year the SNP cut winter resilience funding for our NHS by more than £1 million.
“If our NHS faces a winter crisis, as it has previously under the SNP, ministers should explain to Parliament why they spent close to five times as much on a website.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “This seems a staggering amount of money to spend on simply developing a few websites.
“At a time when we need to be spending public money as efficiently as possible, the Scottish Government has seen it fit to throw millions at a project that hardly seems essential.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “It is incorrect to claim this funding is for one or two simple websites. This funding has a major part to play in ensuring people across Scotland are able to benefit from access to information and modern front-line services from the public sector wherever they are.
“The money we are investing will ensure that services cost less in the future because they will be easier to access and use common digital platforms - allowing things to be built once for Scotland rather than being built or bought multiple times.
“As a result of our investment, sites and services can operate using the same infrastructure, processes and technologies, benefiting all parts of the public sector for many years to come.”