I read with interest the news that the UK Government has committed £14M of funds towards the development of an App that will assist divorcing spouses and separating couples, especially in relation to child care after parting.
I’m all for new technology if it empowers people who would otherwise struggle to afford the fees of divorce lawyers. And yet, I can’t help wondering why it will cost £14M to develop such an App. Sure, the quality of the content has to be there and that won’t be cheap. What’s more, the App developers may be kept busy building in some useful tools and calculators and that will cost a few bob. But £14M? Really?
I suspect, as usual, the news may have been spun too much or has suffered from mis-reporting. If this initiative is to have a £14M price tag, i expect that the British public will find themselves treated to a website of information, online tools, some half-decent signposting to other resources AND AN APP thrown in because that is the sort of sexy thing we all like on our iPhone and Android devices. (And Blackberries… if they’re still making them).
If that is the case, then I wonder: why bother? There are a number of perfectly good websites in existence offering quality information and some excellent financial tools: I have listed them here. An app is fine but a fully functioning website is better. A fully functioning website is delightful, but a properly funded family justice system is simply splendid.
Now I come to think of it, if you deduct the tens of millions saved from the planned withdrawal of legal aid from the majority of family law cases and the tens of millions already slashed from the court budgets, £14M on an App starts to look like a PR stunt. Of course I know these are times of austerity, so the UK Treasury has to be tighter than a shark’s arse in a power dive, but I had envisaged helpful Apps to be a contribution from the entrepreneurial private sector, not a replacement for core, State-funded services.