Government aims for 97 per cent of interactions to be digital


Matt Warman

December 12, 2014

Digitising the 50 most popular government services will allow 97 per cent of all citizens’ interactions with the state to go online, Cabinet Office Francis Maude has said

The government is examining how almost all interactions between the state and citizens could be carried out digitally, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has said.

Current plans will see the completion of the top 25 services going online approximately by the end of next year, but Mr Maude said the Cabinet Office was examining a second phase that would see a total of 50 online, accounting for 97 per cent of all transactions, by the end of the next parliament.

He added, however, that users who were not online, particularly the elderly and the poor, would not be left behind. “You have to have an assisted digital option, ideally framed in a way that allows people to become digitally engaged too,” he said. “It will be horses for courses, and the transaction itself will be digital even if it is, say, supported by telephone assistance.”

Mr Maude was speaking at the launch of the Digital 5 group of nations, with the D5 nations of the UK, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea and Estonia intended to complement the G8 group of nations.

UK Chief Technology Officer Liam Maxwell said the aim of the group was to allow groups to share best practice and to work together to make tangible achievements. “One of the things we learnt from Estonia is the absolute principle of doing things once,” he said. “Take prison visit booking – booking an appointment is something the internet solved 15 years ago; why should we go and reinvent that? Government has not taken this approach in the past.”

New Zealand, for instance will roll out its own version of the UK’s award-winning website. Minister for Internal Affairs Peter Dunne claimed “The endpoint of all this is about a better experience for the taxpayer, who can sit at home on the sofa interacting with government in the same way they do with banks or supermarkets”. He added this benefitted local businesses, as well as allowing “government to make massive saving and massive efficiencies.”

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