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Government plans e-commerce task force to drive business web use

10 Jan 2013
Ed Vaizey talking at Policy Exchange event

The government is to launch an "e-commerce task force" to encourage businesses to take advantage of the benefits of moving online.

The initiative, to be led by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), was revealed by internet minister Ed Vaizey during a discussion on the importance of broadband to the UK held by think tank Policy Exchange.

"The Department for Business is launching an e-commerce task force, I gather, quite soon," he said at the event attended by V3.

"I will certainly press this task force to focus on enabling small businesses to use the internet. It sounds prosaic but it's incredible important."

BIS confirmed to V3 that the task force was in development, but said no date on its official launch had yet been set.

Vaizey went on to underline the importance of getting businesses online by citing the success of other retailers, such as John Lewis which saw online Christmas sales increase 44 percent over the 12 month period, and the UK passed £1bn in digital downloads in 2012.

"The UK internet economy is in rude health. The digital economy accounts for £1 in every £10 spent. We lead the way when it comes to doing business online," he said.

Vaizey also said the government was considering how it would use any future funding around broadband, hinting it may switch its focus from the building of networks to ensuring homes and businesses are benefiting from internet access.

"There is additional funding identified for broadband after 2015. There's no move on how to use it but looking at different policy options," he said.

"Once we have the infrastructure in place we need to make sure we make the most of it. The take up of internet is good but we want it to be better."

The report from Policy Exchange had said the government needed to move away from a fixation on headline speeds and focus more on the importance of getting everyone online to boost the economy.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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