back to article Revealed: Government blows thousands on iPhone apps

The government spent thousands of pounds on iPhone applications - including one for jobseekers and another to show people how to change a flat tyre. Despite the recent announcement of a bonfire of vanity websites there are currently six iPhone apps available or in development. There's one to help people who can't count to …


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  1. Matt Brigden

    This is taking the mick now

    If your unemployed wtf are you doing with a bloody iphone . And what an unbelievable waste of public money developing apps nobody really needs. Most of the iphone apps make me laugh designed for the terminally lazy who cant be bothered to use google . If you need pictures to change a bleeding tyre should you really be driving a car to start with ? .

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Dude, don't be, like, racist and shit

      I mean, like, Estate Agents and Bankers get unemployed too! Just because someone makes £6M in bonus one year and buys a few iPhones for a laugh doesn't mean they can't be TOTALLY unemployed now. Why should they have to go down the jobcentre with, like, the real povs when they can totally sign on from Starbucks on their phone to get their drinking vouchers?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      not a shock

      There was a group of "less well off" people in the shop trying to get an iphone 4 when i was in there. They were kicking off (in the middle of a small, packed shop) because they had tried to get the phone for free, due to an expensive contract (at least £60 a month), and were then asked to put a £150 deposit down before they could have it, which was an extortionate amount that they could in no way afford to pay.

      Maybe i'm just being cynical, but £150 shouldn't really be much money if you can afford £60 a month for a phone. I have a suspicion it would have been "stolen" in no time, or the bill gone unpaid.

      1. Alexander Hanff 1

        wtf is with this madatory title bollocks?

        except they probably can't sign on because they most likely have higher than the maximum amount of savings permitted in order to do so...

    3. LinkOfHyrule
      Jobs Horns

      They might have...

      These unemployed Jobs worshippers (great pun) might have brought their iPhones while in work and then subsequently been fired for being evil cult members.

      Also did anyone else think fleetingly for a moment after reading the headline of this story but before actually reading the story itself that it was a piece about how civil servants had pissed our money up the wall on fart apps and Bejeweled?

  2. Thomas 4


    Exactly how useful is this app on car maintainence, given that every engine layout is different? Besides, is it really the DVLA's job to teach you how to look after your car? That's what the owner's manual is for, or a Haynes manual will do at a pinch.

    1. Bluenose

      Not sure the reference to DVLA is right

      DVLA are really only interested in whether your car is taxed, registered and on or off the road as well as whether you have a driving licence to drive it. On that basis not sure why they would create an app for something that is actually the responsibility of DSA (who have got off the hook before by hiding behind DVLA).

  3. Number6


    What about those of us who are sensible enough to not own an iPhone? We're subsidising the Cult of Jobs. Surely there should also be an Android app, a Blackberry app and a Symbian app as well? (Those using Windows Mobile are a lost cause already.)

  4. Daniel 1

    Well, gee

    Since we are told that billions, need to be saved, over the next few years, then (while the 40-odd grand, spent on some crappy widget software, is an almost comically-shocking waste) I would prefer to look towards finding out which ever wasterel commissioned this work to be done in the first place, rather than the work itself, since it's there, that the real savings can be made.

    Why obsess over the odd thousand, when we could, instead, locate the desk, behind which, sits the "half-a-million-a-year-plus-bonuses-plus-pension", who signed the cheques?

    1. Steve Crook

      True but...

      This is an interesting exercise because it illustrates the mindset. People get a good income selling iPhone apps. They don't cost much, but you sell a lot, you make a lot. Same thing with waste. You may only throw a few pennies away, but if you do it often enough...

      Unfortunately, there's a tendency to focus on a few big salaries or obviously wasteful projects, all the the while there's a constant bleed of *our* money out of govt in departmental vanity projects.

      The audit commission should be made entirely independent of govt, and given powers to bite, not just to report.

  5. Stefing

    iHand clearly needs to develop an app to tell people how to hold their precious iPhones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do fanboys now need instructions on how... shove it up their arse?

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Well if they do they know where to go given that Fandroids already have their heads in their own arses, so know well how to shove things up there.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    "The DVLA is creating something called the Motoring Masterclass, which will show the ignorant how to check spark plugs and change flat tyres, costing £40,000."

    Here a fucking idea.

    Search for

    Car basics for begineers.

    1st hit

    Add link

    £40,000 saved.

    Can I have a job for the cash cow, sorry, please.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Spark plugs

      "how to check spark plugs and change flat tyres"

      I still can't find the spark plugs on my engine though. Maybe it's because it's a diesel?

      And I thought the government were encouraging the use small eco cars, which are mostly either diesel or electric. The former don't have spark plugs and the latter you hope don't!

      That, and the fact that a lot of new cars don't have a spare wheel... they seem to think that a can of 'gunk' + compressed air will do the job.

  7. Woolly Jumper

    Android too?

    Great, they'll have spent the same on Android apps too then.. right? right?

  8. Luke McCarthy
    Jobs Halo

    If you're unemployed... can you afford an iPhone?

    1. John Square


      I know iPhones have gotten cheaper, but- honestly- I think they should/could still be reasonably counted as a luxury item... and thus probably not a great channel to engage with the unemployed.

      That's who Nokias are for, right? [/joke]

    2. Jonte Monkey

      Re: If you're unemployed...

      You do know that some of us had a job before we were made redundant?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Jesus wept

    this is so unbelievable I can scarcely think of a relevant comment.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Trap springs and catches the unaware

      You've just fallen into the trap - selective information written into an article designed to get you to read it for advertising. This isn't the whole story. While it makes for great sensationalism, why not information regarding project objectives, why they have decided that iPhone apps are *one* of their routes to market, other routes to market they use, yada yada yada.

  10. fifi


    "show the ignorant how to check spark plugs"


    Does it also show them how to access the plugs an almost any modern car where even replacing a headlight bulb can be a dealer-only job?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: plugs?

      No, but it does tell you how to set your points, how to tune your carburettor(s), and how to correctly apply lubrication to your grease nipples. It also gives some very important safety advice about not mixing cross-ply and radial tyres on the same axle.

      1. Oliver Mayes

        I know it's extremely childish

        But I can't help sniggering at the thought of an instructional video of how to lubricate your grease nipples.

        I know, I know, I'm off to grow up a bit.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    change a flat tyre...

    ...or bolt on the spare wheel? There is a difference after all.

    1. Marvin the Martian
      Paris Hilton

      bolt on?

      You mean, without removing the wheel with the flat? I'd like a youtube video of that, and the driving afterwards.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    don't mind me

  13. Anon the mouse


    iPhone apps......

    for an expensive phone........

    For the jobless...........

    no wonder poeple WANT to go on benefits.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Counting their drinks?

    I bet they know the cost of each pint when they pay for it!!

  15. RorschachUK


    Government "blows thousands" developing apps? Not millions, then? Sounds more like the salary of a handful of developers, as you might expect. Overall, they've probably spent less than the MoD's total biscuit budget.

    Who was it thought there might be outrage about this?

  16. SynicNZ

    Tried the android version of the job centre app ....

    It sucked - should not have been surprised.

  17. Adam T


    They must have noticed half the people in the iPhone queue were on the dole (who else can stand in an all-day queue on a weekday).

    At least they were here, "up north".

  18. skellious

    *rolls eyes*

    PLEASE MAKE IT STOP NOW! I should hardly have to say that the govenrment should not be making apps for proprietry platforms when a universal mobile web app can be made. and the cost is, as ever with govenrment projects, rediculously overbudget. there are people out there who could knock together something like this for a few hundered, not THOUSAND.

    I mean seriously, in a recession, who thought THIS was the best use of taxpayers money? (and if you have an iPhone why are you on job seekers?)

    In an ideal world all government spending would be detailed on a website in advance so members of the public could write in to complain about it.

    I just hope spending improves under the new government...

    1. cyborg

      iPhone = latest fashion = government wants in

      It's no more complicated than that - governments are always desperate to look "relevant" and since the iPhone is the current technological fashion de jour it's the one that gets the attention.

      Maybe with the new government's move towards looking at open source solutions this may also include a shift towards looking at government technology with at least some semblance of an integrated, agnostic, technological perspective.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge


      "In an ideal world all government spending would be detailed on a website in advance so members of the public could write in to complain about it." There is a lot to be said for this, but I cannot get rid of the horrible feeling that it would end up like the Advertising Standards Agency, which would listen to the deranged ramblings of a few terminally over-sensitive people.* Road repairs - "oooh, no - think of the hedgehogs"; fibre-optic to every area - "oooh no, it'll mean digging the roads up and delaying my journey"; new hospital - "ooooh no, it'll encourage people to be sick on my tax money", etc, etc, etc. However, if the aim is to save government money then it will be a total success - nothing will ever get spent.

      * I'm still in a state of wtf from their decision earlier this year that adverts for some cheap hotel chain could only be shown after the watershed because one person's child got frightened by a rip-off of "The Shining"!!!!

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Clearly room for a spending cut

    If the unemployed can afford Jesus-phones in the first place there's room for a benefit cut!

  20. Jim T


    In further news, millions of pounds was spent putting tarmac on roads in 2009. Pundits say this is a complete waste, as the roads were clearly passable with the majority of todays vehicles, and cheaper alternatives, such as mud and sand have existed for years.

    1. paulf

      "millions of pounds was spent putting tarmac on roads in 2009"

      Did they? I think I bloody well missed that one. The broken front wishbone on my car fucking well didn't miss the umpteenth pot hole around here though.

      Around here you have to swerve like a drunk to miss the gaping holes in the roads. I'm sure that's the case elsewhere and not just the Home counties.

      1. Woodgar


        Maybe we need an app to tell us where the pot holes are?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: iHole

          That should clearly only be released on Android!


  21. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And what makes you think...

      ...for a MINUTE that these apps were developed in the UK?

      The very cost of those apps suggests one of the usual suspects was involved in their creation, rather than someone in their shed, so the work was probably done a non-British company employing a non-British contractor who used staff in their base country....British involvement was probably minimal.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Do you have a link...

      To where it states that UK national's were paid to develop these iPhone 'apps'?

    3. M Gale

      Apple hardware? Cheap?

      "- the iPhone will fall in price, like all tech does. Eventually, when they're dirt cheap, won't it be wise for the general public to have access to apps. Apps aren't free to develop!"

      I'm sure you can buy PowerPC Macs from ebay these days. Problem is, they are next to useless and still come with an Apple price tag, compared with a PC from the same era.

      The iToys will be exactly the same. You may be able to get a first-gen iToy for reasonably cheap.. when the 10th gen iToys are out and none of the apps will work on the old stuff. Apple is the Bang and Olufsen of computing, and you shall expect to have a similarly fat wallet to afford one.

    4. The Other Steve

      10 k is a lot, is it ?

      10k will buy you somewhere around 33 days of software consultancy at ~£300/day, which is the low end of the scale. So to get a whole app delivered tested and ready for distribution at that cost represents quite good value.

      These are minimal amounts of money being spent by government departments who, just for once in their miserable existence are trying to determine if their processes can benefit from using current mobile tech. But of course there was mention of the iPhone, and so the haters excoriate them, rather than making the leap to understand that innovations such as these, which have cost us fuck all, are aimed at driving cost savings.

      Turns out ignorance isn't so much bliss as continual whining.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        @The Other Steve

        Well put, thanks for that. And as usual I see the Fandroid sheep are out already downvoting your great post.

  22. fixit_f
    Thumb Down


    Just fuck off, government. Really, fuck off. The more I read about this sort of thing the more I think the libertarians have a point.

  23. someone up north

    how to call AA

    soon there will be one on how to call the AA, and one on how to pee for these moron

  24. Nick Kew


    I trust this is the legacy of the profligate do-everything government we've just got rid of, and that the current government is busy plugging money leaks like this even as you discover them ...

    It's just occurred to me, the analogy between the government's task with public money and BP's with its oil! Each will be happy if it can reduce a colossal flood to a manageable flow of waste ...

  25. Mark Rendle

    £40k is nothing

    In terms of wasting the taxpayers money, various departments fulfilling this FOI request and the BBC running the story probably cost 10 times that.

  26. coalvilledave


    To be honest I resent the author using the term 'dole bludger'. There's going to be a massive amount of unemployment in this country in the years to come and it's totally insensitive to those who are desperately looking for work (as most unemployed people are). The fact is our economic system NEEDS the unemployed in times of crisis so they can force worsening terms and conditions on the ones who ARE working. Yes the iphone app is a stupid idea, but so is punishing ordinary people for a financial crisis caused by the wealthy elite. We've never been short of stupid ideas from our politicians have we?

  27. max allan

    Hey, you're all missing the point, this is money saving!

    Compare the amount spent on apps with the amount spent on websites as posted a few days ago.

    Average UK gov website costs £2M. So imagine if they made a website for the jobless or the DVLA or...

    Oh hold on.

    F^%$ing WASTERS

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whilst we can argue about the £40K - is not the £96m on website development more relevant?

    it seems a little high to me...

    just a thought

  29. SlabMan

    iPhone is proprietary

    The government shouldn't be endorsing particular commercial platforms (see also Twitter, Facebook, etc). So, mobile web, yes; apps, no.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      It's Engagement not Endorsement

      Have a look at

      HM Gov comms teams are busy using Blogs / Twitter / Facebook (ie: the same tools you use) to tell you what they're doing. It's called Transparent Government.

      Much of cost of designing websites is down to the costs of hiring contract developers, there's a recurring theme... Less Gov spending on websites = more commercial developers lloking for work on their expensive jesus phones!!

      Fail because this story isn't worthy of the Reg, leave this to the Daily Mail

  30. davefb

    sorry you've lost me..

    government spends money on sensible things?

    10k is very little for an iphone app, 40k for a multimedia app, well we'd have taken the job , but it's hardly 'lots of money' . How long would the register itself last without any advertising? I'm guessing all the journalists work on it for free and they pay the hosting costs?

    'how dare they have iphones and want to look for jobs' , yes, because when made redundant that contract just 'disappears'..

    As for smuggies saying 'why not google it' for changing a wheel, good idea, works perfectly in areas of no signal. Having a simple app seems like a good idea..

    As mark says , the irony would be that the cost of handling all these ludicrous FOI requests will exceed these costs by far ( though make for nice cheap copy for a multitude of journos)..

    ( spot the iphone dev who doesn't work on iphone stuff any more because nobody is willing to pay anywhere near the dev costs)

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Self-serving poster

      "spot the iphone dev who doesn't work on iphone stuff any more because nobody is willing to pay anywhere near the dev cost". My heart bleeds for you - now maybe you can get out and use your skills to do something half-way useful.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @Intractable Potsherd

        Well done, you. You just erected the biggest stage for yourself to stand on and labelled it, "Only I get to judge what's useful and what isn't". Well done, and hugely arrogant.

  31. Nicholas Smith

    iPhones & Unemployment

    a) you can pick up a second hand iPhone for not a lot now, and Apps don't just run on iPhones there is the cheaper option of an iPod Touch, b) they may have bought it when they were in happy, steady employment, c) the jobcentre isn't *just* for people who are unemployed.

    At least they're trying new ideas of engagement out, and at least they also made sure it was Android compatible.

    (Also should be made clear, it was developed at the start of this year in the heady days prior to the election)

  32. Anonymous Coward

    am i the only one thinking...

    which tory do i need to spank/whip/suck off in bushes to get one of these lucrative app dev contracts? ... no? just me?

    *grabs coat*

    1. SirStrider
      Thumb Down


      10k might not be as lucrative as you think. Without having seen the apps, I'm going to assume that they've got quite high production values, in which case it would probably take 2-3 developers 2-3 months (including testing and submission time) to produce.

      Doing some sums on the back of a envelope, lets say each dev is on 24k a year, that's 2k a month (+ employee contributions of about £250) * 3 months is 6.75k, leaving 3.25k to pay for the office's rent, bills and other assorted costs involved in running a business before you even start to talk about profit. So, not exactly the massive cash cow you were implying it is.

  33. IdristheSweep
    Big Brother


    No government app for tracking expenses?

    Ah - not tranlatable into a logical ruleset. Understood.

  34. Jim_aka_Jim

    So what you're saying is...

    If you're unemployed you must buy and iPhone.

    I'm guessing with the some of the money the government has given you. Because you're unemployed.

    Then you have to buy the app for job seeking.

    Again I'm guessing with the some of the money the government has given you. But don't worry, becuase you're 'seeking emplyment' the government will give you more money.

    All this will save you looking at the website that costs too much. (I bet you can't even look at the website on the iWhatever anyway because it uses flash)

    Did anyone see the lastest episode of Futurama? About the eyePhone? enough said.

    1. The BigYin


      Because it hasn't been aired in the UK yet. It will probably get here in about 2 years, once everyone has already watched it "illegally".

  35. Howard Cole

    First against the wall.

    I take it that whoever approved the budget for this will be one of the first made redundant during the public sector cutbacks.

    Probably not. It will be one of the poor sods in the front line unemployment office who is given the boot.

    What a waste of money. It makes me really mad that people can get away with this, using MY money.

    People would just not get away with this where I work. We have an inbuilt "use the money wisely" system in our company called "Keith". He asks us what we want the money for - and if its a stupid idea or one that cannot be justified he says "No". Clearly the public sector does not seem to have such an inbuilt safety/common-sense feature. Otherwise ideas such as this, and MP's Moat-Repairs would clearly not get through.

    Sooooooo Mad.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The dirving app

    Why isn't basic maintenance part of the driving test? And coupled with that, why are vehicle manufacturers required to design cars where you can do simple tasks (e.g. replace a blown bulb) by hand. Oh no. In modern cars you have to get it up on the ramp, remove the front, slaughter a virgin goat at midnight....anyway.

    If you can't change a spark plug you are IMHO no fit to drive.

    Getting all the useless wasters off the road who shouldn't be there could solve the congestion issue too!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "If you can't change a spark plug you are IMHO no fit to drive"

      you haven't seen my car's engine! tried to get at the spark plugs to give them a clean last year and could only reach 3 (its a 6 cylinder) - car ended up in the garage for half a day whilst they stripped bits off the engine so they could get to the plugs.

    2. M Gale

      Changing sparkplugs on an MG F

      Open the bonnet... no engine.

      Open the boot.. no engine.

      So how do you change the sparkplugs? Well that's easy. You drive it onto a ramp and jack the thing up until you can stand underneath. Then you change the sparkplugs.

  37. OrsonX

    time spent looking at any iPhone app

    ~20 seconds

  38. druck Silver badge

    What Next, PS3 Games?

    What are we going to find the last Government has been wasting money on next? Developing PS3 games to show children how to cross the road?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Great illogic.

  39. Anonymous Coward


    "There's one to help people who can't count to monitor their drinking."

    You have learning difficulties and a drink problem? I think getting an iPhone app to help you is the least of you worries!

    What a complete and utter waste of time and money!

    See this is the curse of Gov IT, a thousand and one disperate departments, each with some dickhead in charge decides one morning on the way into work. "I know what the country really needs, an iPhone app to do XYZ! It could lead my career on to greater things! £30k should do it, drop in the ocean, heck we owe £160bn, hardly noticed!"

  40. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    According to BBC,

    the DVLA app, which is a rough design and not a completed product and the money hasn't acnullly been spent, is mainly to deal with road tax and MOT and so forth as far as they're concerned, and keep people legal and paying up, but provides the how-to-maintain-your-car stuff as something you actually enjoy having on your mobile device as well as maybe a bit of extra road safety by getting vehicles maintained when needed. And there's a hazard-light mode (screen blinks orange/black or red/black I suppose). Since it didn't actually get written, you can't see for yourself.

    I think someone already pointed out that if you have an iPhone and lose your job then you still have to pay the iPhone contract to the end, although I suppose they give up if you declare bankruptcy. Or if you don't have an iPhone, a parent or friend may let you use theirs.

  41. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Another explanation

    Some developers had nothing to do because their mega $ IT project was being renamed/redesigned/recontracted out. So they play around with an iPhone between reading el-reg.

    At the end of the year some manager is looking to justify not having done anything on the mega project - so he looks at what they have done and pretends that was the plan.

    Next year he will just have them read an el-reg piece on hackers and bill their salary to security ( national security - can't be questioned - terrorism you know )

  42. dct

    Stop Smoking sounds like bargain...

    It's easy to laugh - but remember we've not seen them.

    The NHS Apps sound great value for money - if the Stop Smoking app actually does anything useful, then it'll pay for all the others. If one person stops smoking, and as a result doesn't need cancer treatment, then a ten thousand pound app is saving money.

    If a job centre app gets vacancy listings to a few people, and gets them in a job a few weeks sooner, that could also save thousands.

    The total budget is less than making and/or airing a few TV commercials.

    On the other hand they could be rubbish!

    1. kwikbreaks


      If one person gives up smoking the government will lose all that lovely tax on fags and years later they'll have to shell out pension money longer too.

      You obviously aren't old enough to remember Yes Minister (or maybe it was Yes Prime Minister).

  43. Anonymous Coward

    the G. O. V. E. R. N. M. E. N. T.

    Why is anybody surprised? Did you really believe the people the government have any incentive at all to refrain from showering our tax money on themselves and their relatives? When you hold the purse strings who is going to keep you from hiring your cousin's firm to make those websites?

    Those millions were only wasted from our point of view, not from Mr. scumbag bureaucrat-in-charge's viewpoint!

    Despite everything you've been led to believe in the government's schools, the G. O. V. E. R. N. M. E. N. T. isn't there to help YOU, it's there to help THEM.

  44. Skymonrie


    If you are jobless, you shouldn't be wasting your money on a damn iPhone!

  45. Jesse Dorland
    Jobs Horns

    Remember apps called Poop machine?

    Reg had an review of 10 smart & stupid apps of iphone. I wonder if uk paid for poop machine?

  46. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @Stop Smoking sounds like bargain

    Smoking is profitable.

    Lung cancer treatment costs bugger-all since it mainly consists of telling you that you are going to be dead in 6months and there is no treatment that works.

    Plus it kills people in their 50-60s after they have paid all that tax and NI but before they claim any pension.

    Personally I consider smokers as national heroes, alongside people who use 12mpg SUVs on the school run.

    Mind you - I'm the smug cyclist that they are still going to be paying for when I'm 90 ;-)

    1. kwikbreaks

      fat chance...

      > Mind you - I'm the smug cyclist that they are still going to be paying for when I'm 90 ;-)

      not if you get flattened by the hero in the 12mpg SUV first......

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    money well spent!

    Its still much cheaper than building a dedicated spying/tracking device and somehow getting you to voluntarily carry it about with you.

  48. Skymonrie


    How can there be an iPhone without Jobs? :p

  49. fred #257

    What's the point?

    Changing spark plugs is either obvious (if your car is old enough) or damn near impossible without a fully equipped workshop (if it's new). And quite often specific to the particular car model so any generic instructions are pretty useless.

    Changing a wheel now - why not just make up a one-page guide with little sketches and print it as a leaflet. And release it as a PDF so people can print their own if they like. Fold, place in glove box until needed. No need for expensive electronic iGimmickry.

    There. Sorted. 39,500 quid saved. I'll take my share in beer, thanks.

  50. Anonymous Coward


    They couldn't piss money away fast enough.

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