UK government fancies itself as an iPhone developer

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The UK government has spent tens of thousands of pounds on developing iPhone apps, the BBC has revealed.

They include an app aimed at unemployed people, which apparently cost  £32,775 to develop.

And while European governments are more generous than some, they still don't run to handing out iPhones to those with unscheduled time on their hands.

Mark Wallace of the Taxpayers' Alliance is up in arms. "While it's not just the very wealthy who own iPhones, it is certainly not the very poorest in society," he says.

"If the JobCentre had this money left over and felt they had to spend it, then why did they choose to target the better off, rather than the long term unemployed who are the most difficult to find work for?"

Nevertheless, the app has had over 53,000 downloads so far.

Another app, which cost £40,000, shows motorists how to check their spark plugs and change a flat tyre.

"This one is even more questionable than the Job Centre's effort," says Wallace. "The DVLA's job is issuing driving licenses and selling licence plates for cars - not training the nation in how to tinker with car engines."

Several of the apps duplicate others already on the market from commercial developers - and they don't get particularly good reviews.

"I'm not sure what this app is trying to do," says one frustrated user of a journey planner app."I sincerely hope nobody ever tries to use this while driving. Or even just to plan a journey."

The BBC obtained the information under a Freedom of Information Request. Rather wonderfully, the Home Office refused to comply on security grounds. What on earth could they be up to?