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People flooding online for public services

People are much more likely to go online now for public or civic services and activities than they were in 2005, claims UK communications industries regulator Ofcom (opens in new tab).

The organisation’s Media Use and Attitudes (opens in new tab) report is now in its tenth year, having been founded in 2005, where it revealed 49 per cent of Internet users aged 16 and over would go online to find out about a public service.

This number rose to 78 per cent in 2014 and more Internet users say they have visited political or campaigning websites, up from 19 per cent in 2005 to 44 per cent in 2014.

Meanwhile, 69 per cent of the nearly 2000 adults surveyed by Ofcom said they had looked at websites or apps for local news and had completed government processes such as renewing their driving licence online.

Just 19 per cent have ever contacted their MP or local councillor online, but 35 per cent have signed an online petition before.

On a weekly basis, 18 per cent will use the Internet to research public services provided by local or central government and 17 per cent look for news about their local area or community on websites or apps.

In comparison with all Internet users, 35-44 year olds are the most likely to go online to find out more about public sector services, while those aged 16-24 are the least likely to have done so.

The Ofcom research also investigated the devices people use to complete government processes online.

Over half say they use a laptop for this purpose, while one in four will use a desktop – but, one in ten do use mostly a tablet or a smartphone.

For those who choose not to use the Internet to access public services, people mostly claimed they prefer a pen and paper to fill in forms and use the post.

However, others also say they do not need to use the services that are available online at this time or prefer to speak to someone in person.

Last Decade Sees Time Spent Online Double

The report also claims the amount of time people spend online has doubled from ten years ago and the dramatic increase is fuelled by the increasing use of tablets and smartphones.

The research also revealed that in the five years since tablet computing was launched, four in ten adults now use such a device to go online, with the average adult spending over 20 hours online per week.

It also claims that there is less online concern than ten years ago but there has been an increased demand for protection.