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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

More services 'should go online'

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Martha Lane Fox said more Government services should be made available online

Billions of pounds could be saved if the Government moved more services online, a report by the UK’s “digital champion” has said.

Internet entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox called for a radical improvement in the number and quality of services being made available electronically.

Shifting half of contacts to digital would slash the bill for taxpayers by £2.2 billion as well as improving access, she said in her analysis for ministers.

Ms Lane Fox also called for the DirectGov organisation to be made a “customer champion with teeth” and wider access to state services through outside sites.

Ministers should also recruit an executive director to co-ordinate the work, she suggested.

“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,” she said.

“But this is just the beginning: the Government must look at more dramatic measures – such as syndicating and opening up information and services to other organisations – to be able to offer genuine improvements to consumers, taxpayers, business and citizens in the UK.”

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said the inability to apply for many benefits online was “inconvenient, expensive, wasteful and ridiculous and it can not continue.

“As Martha Lane Fox’s insightful report shows, there is no excuse for not making quality online services the default solution for providing services for people needing Government services,” he said.

“This does not mean we will abandon groups that are less likely to access the internet: we recognise that we cannot leave anyone behind. Every single Government service must be available to everyone – no matter if they are online or not.”

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