UK government pulls interactive spending cuts website

Wednesday 21 July 2010 15:45

Britain has pulled an interactive website asking the public to suggest ways of cutting government spending citing "attacks" after it attracted a range of bizarre proposals and rants against minorities.

The "spending challenge" site had been launched with great fanfare by finance minister George Osborne, intended to be at the heart of efforts to slash a record deficit.

According to bloggers and newspaper articles, some of the wilder suggestions included a windfall tax on people called Steve, the sterilization of welfare claimants and the use of domestic cats on treadmills to generate electricity.

Several groups representing minorities - particularly migrants and the disabled, many of them lobbying against the cuts - have demanded the site be taken down, saying some postings amounted to hate speech.

"As you may have noticed, the site has been subject to a small number of malicious attacks so we unfortunately had to pause the interactive features for now," said a notice posted on the site on July 16 - only hours after a Treasury spokesman told Reuters it was down for routine maintenance.

Governments across Europe are trying to slash spending, rebalance books and placate nervous international lenders, prompting an outcry from affected groups.

The Treasury says it has received more than 60,000 suggestions and published a list of some of the more sensible, including rationalizing stationery purchases, information technology savings and turning office lights off.

The site remains open for new suggestions ahead of an October spending review, but they will no longer be published immediately. On Wednesday, a spokeswoman was unable to say if or when the interactive function would return.

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