Housing minister pushes for blockchain integration into UK gov’t

Eddie Hughes wants all government departments to come up with a plan to use blockchain and other emerging tech to reach a 1% efficiency saving—which, although seemingly miniscule, would amount to billions of pounds.

UK’s Housing Minister Eddie Hughes released a report for FREER, an initiative by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) that aims to develop ideas for “a freer economy and a freer society.”

The report focuses on “Unlocking Blockchain,” outlining the technology’s potential benefits, opportunities, and a set of proposed next steps. One of the biggest benefits it outlines is the amount of costs it would save various sectors from retail to banking—which in 2015 Santander estimated would reach $15-20 billion per annum by 2022.

Transparency benefits have also been cited, pointing to a “trust deficit” in today’s society, Hughes asked:

“In a free society, the bonds of trust bring responsible individuals together into chosen community. Freedom and trust go hand in hand. Yet, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and a series of serious public scandals—ranging from the illegal misuse of parliamentary expense accounts, to claims of harassment and abuse against charity workers—is it any surprise that our institutions are increasingly viewed with suspicion?”

Hughes insists that citizens must be able “own, see, hold, and control” their data, adding that “public services grows as they become more transparent.”

“Citizens should be able to own, see, hold, and control the use of their own data—the data that others are so keen to access, and that our security and wellbeing increasingly depends upon,” he wrote.

Hughes proposes that the state give priority focus on using blockchain technology to empower individuals and enable social freedom, efficiency, and societal trust. And that the state should also “drive homegrown entrepreneurship” through an international blockchain competition, as well as the appointment of a Chief Blockchain Officer to take charge of the government’s initiative for blockchain technology in relation with other emerging tech such as AI.

He urges that all government departments come up with a plan to reach a 1% efficiency saving through such technologies—which he says may take a lot of work but would result in a substantial amount in savings.

“…total managed expenditure for 2017-18 is anticipated to be around £802bn—therefore, a 1 per cent saving would be £8bn. A renewed UK focus on efficiency and the opportunities of new technology would be inspirational in a wider sense, too,” he wrote.

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