Friday 4 September 2009

Ministers seek £120,000-a-year 'Twittercrat' to help them communicate on internet

Ministers are creating a £120,000-a-year post to help them communicate through the internet.The deputy director of digital engagement will push Labour's policies on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and Twitter.

The successful applicant, dubbed the 'Deputy Twittercrat', must 'confidently engage with audiences on non-governmental online channels'.

The aim, according to the Cabinet Office job description, will be to 'deploy innovative technologies to set the standards required throughout government in this fast-moving area'. Incredibly, the position will pay a starting salary of £75,000 - £10,000 more than a backbench MP who pockets £64,766 a year. But this could rise to £120,000.

It also comes with 30 days annual holiday and 'generous' maternity leave, parental leave and adoption leave. Only last month campaigners criticised the Government for creating a Director of Digital Engagement with a salary of up to £160,000 - more than a Cabinet Minister and Lord Chancellor get before expenses.

Conservative Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said: 'You would have thought one Twitter tsar was enough for Gordon Brown. 'True to form this Government says one thing and does another. 'The public rightly expect this government to exercise some kind of prudence when the country is in the grip of a recession. 'Instead all we get is Labour shelling out yet more taxpayers' money on spin doctors to peddle their propaganda.'

Susie Squire, political director at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'You would have thought that with record debt and money tight, the Government would have better things to spend money on than yet another pointless Twitter tsar.

'The public sector as a whole should be tightening its belt during times of economic hardship, and these jobs would be a scandalous waste even during good economic times. 'Taxpayers want an end to wasteful spending and Government departments can already communicate adequately by email.'

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: 'It is very important that Government policy and the delivery of public services are based on engagement with citizens. 'Millions of people find out about things and express their opinions on the internet, so it is vital that Government departments engage with citizens through digital channels.

'We have created this post to support and encourage all departments to become excellent at using these techniques alongside traditional engagement methods and are confident that this will save Government more than it costs by helping us to be smarter in the way we use web and the internet.'

In July, Lord Mandelson's Department for Business came under fire after one senior civil servant was asked to produce a 20-page strategy paper on how to use Twitter. The 5,300-word document set out how ministers and Government departments could most effectively get their message across to the public using the fashionable microblogging website.

Also in July, Tory leader David Cameron was criticised for swearing on radio while dismissing politicians’ use of the site. He said: ‘The trouble with Twitter, the instantness [sic] of it, is I think that too many twits might make a t***.'

Users can post 'tweets' - short updates of up to 140 characters - which can be read by their 'followers' on the site.

Read more: The Daily Mail article, click HERE

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