The digital champion Martha Lane Fox has said that the UK could save billions of pounds if the government shifted more services online.
In her 11 page report (opens in new tab) co-founder of lastminute.com Lane Fox said that the government could save £2.2 billion per year if it moved half of its public delivery contracts to the internet.
Lane Fox recommends that Directgov be made the “customer champion with teeth” to improve the quality of the government’s online services, as well as be made the centre for all government transactions, and calls for a plan to be created on how to “converge” Directgov and Business Link onto a single platform.
“For years, businesses have been using digital communications to improve services and engagement with their consumers. 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."
She also recommends an Executive Director for Digital and Information in the Cabinet Office be hired to coordinate the work.
Commenting on the report, Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude welcomed the report, but said that many contracts inherited from the previous administration “effectively limit the number of people who can use some online services.”
“This is inconvenient, expensive, wasteful and ridiculous and it can not continue,” he added.
“The shift towards online services also has the power to transform the relationship between Government and individuals. As Martha Lane Fox’s insightful report shows quality online services can be the default solution for people needing Government services. Not only are services more convenient and cheaper, but they can be better and more personalised,” Maude 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.”