Mr Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, said he would be scrapping three quarters of the Government’s 820 websites.
Whitehall sources were reluctant to name which sites will close although one suggested that www.lovechips.co.uk – a website run by the marketing department of the Potato Council – would be unlikely to survive the cull.
Mr Maude said all of the sites “will be subject to a review looking at cost, usage and whether they could share resources better”. The review, which will report back in September, will aim to close 75 per cent of them, and halve the costs of the remaining websites.
No new Government websites can now be set up, the Cabinet Office said, without the permission of a new Whitehall efficiency board, chaired by Chancellor George Osborne and Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury.
Mr Maude said: “The days of ‘vanity sites’ are over. It is not good enough to have websites which do not deliver the high quality services which people expect and deserve. That is why we will take tough action to get rid of those which are not up to the job and do not offer good value for money and introduce strict guidelines for those that remain.”
A report from the Central Office for Information, published today, found that £94 million was spent on the construction and set up and running costs of just 46 sites. The Government also spent £32 million on staff costs for those sites in 2009-10.