Autumn Statement: Digital budgets to increase, comms campaign spend centralised, and a U-turn on tax credits

Chancellor George Osborne's Spending Review and Autumn Statement included investment in the Government Digital Service, a change to how comms campaign spending is managed, and an eye-catching U-turn on cutting tax credits.

Osborne delivered his statement to the House of Commons at lunchtime - the full document was then published online.

Reducing the UK's debts and deficit was a major theme, resulting in cuts to several government departments, although NHS spending will be £10bn higher in real terms in 2020-21 than it was in 2014-15, Osborne announced.

Another area to see substantial investment was the Government's digital capability. The statement says: "The Spending Review invests £1.8bn in digital technology and transformation projects across the public sector over the next four years, cementing the Government’s position as a digital leader. The Government Digital Service (GDS) will continue to act as the digital, data and technology centre for government."

The GDS itself will receive £450m to "create common platforms, for example GOV.UK Pay, which will simplify hundreds of different payment systems making it easier for businesses and citizens to pay government".

However, Osborne pledged tighter controls on government comms spending, with his statement saying: "In the last Parliament the Government introduced tight controls over non-essential spending, including advertising and marketing, consultancy and IT. In this Parliament the Government will go further by moving to a centrally managed budget for communications campaign spending from 2016-17."

Tax credits

Away from comms, the biggest headline from the statement was Osborne's announcement that he would abandon controversial cuts to tax credits – closely followed by the news that there would be no reduction in police budgets.

In his response to the Chancellor's statement, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: "I'm glad he's listened to Labour and seen sense." However, some journalists commented that this actually conversely represented a lost PR opportunity for Labour.

Tweeting along

McDonnell's response also provided one of the more bizarre Autumn Statement moments of recent years - which was enjoyed by Twitter users, many of whom as ever reacted in real time to Osborne's statement via the social network.

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