Overhaul of government websites could lead to savings of £1.8 billion

The Government Digital Service (GDS) estimates that it can reap annual savings of £1.8 billion by introducing its "digital by default" policy, which will require a transfer of offline public services to digital channels and will see a complete overhaul of the government's existing web services, as they are "rarely" used by the public.

According to three GDS reports that pertain to the government's online strategy, transactional government services - described as as any services that involve "sharing information, requesting services, buying goods, asking for permission, or paying money" - are highlighted as having the greatest savings potential. This finding informed the decision to revamp the services responsible for handling 100,000 transactions per year, though the cost of carrying out this policy has yet to be disclosed.

Furthermore, the costs of digital transactions are estimated to be 20 times lower than those conducted over the phone, 30 times lower than those carried out via post and a whopping 50 times lower than face-to-face interactions, according to the Digital Efficiency Report.

One of the GDS reports suggests that an hour of government interaction costs the taxpayer £14.70, with 1.5 billion interactions estimated to have taken place between 2011 and 2012, most of which were conducted in person or over the phone.

The busiest online services, including the Department of Work and Pensions, Home Office, Department of Transport, will undergo a redesign by April 2013, with a completion date set for March 2015. Gov.uk, which was recently transformed into a 'citizen-facing' destination, will be turned into a hub that will serve as the online home for all government departments by March 2013.

Any government site launched after April 2014 will be subject to a new set of regulations that will maintain a consistent standard of design and function across all government digital channels. All sites will also offer APIs, allowing developers to create third-party apps, tools and services and taking a step towards more open government.