More Government services to move online

The Government has committed to moving more public services online after a report by Lastminute.com founder Martha Lane Fox found that billions could be saved by increasing the number and quality of services available digitally.

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Lane Fox’s report argues that shifting 30% of government services online could save more than £1.3bn, rising to £2.2bn if 50% of services shifted to digital channels.

Other recommendations include making Directgov the “customer champion with teeth” to improve the quality of government’s online services, while making all transactional services available through the public information portal to “simplify the user experience of digital public services”.

Lane Fox adds: “Government should take advantage of the more open, agile and cheaper digital technologies to deliver simpler and more effective digital services to users, particularly to disadvantaged groups who are some of the heaviest users of government services.”

The Cabinet Office, which commissioned the study in July, has been looking to move services and marketing communications online to cut costs since the coalition took office in May and made deficit reduction through efficiency savings a priority.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude says the shift towards online services “has the power to “transform the relationship between Government and individuals”.

He adds: “We will use digital technology to drive better services and lower costs. At present we inherited contracts that effectively limit the number of people who can use some online services. And for most benefits it is simply not possible to apply online. This is inconvenient, expensive, wasteful and ridiculous and it can not continue.”

The Government will not abandon groups “that are less likely to access the internet”, Maude adds and will continue to offer offline services where appropriate.

Lane Fox is currently leading public private partnership Race Online 2012, which aims to encourage internet take up.

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