Government seeks savings by moving public services online

LONDON Tue Nov 23, 2010 3:35am GMT

Related Topics

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain could save billions of pounds by moving access to public services online and minimising paper-based administration, a government-ordered report by internet entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox said on Tuesday.

Moving half of all government service delivery contracts to the Internet could save 2.2 billion pounds a year, said Lane Fox, co-founder of travel and retail website lastminute.com.

Lane Fox was appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron in June as "UK Digital Champion," with the task of getting online the 10 million members of the public who have never used the internet.

"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," Lane Fox said.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said the government aimed to get as many services delivered online through its Directgov website, but recognised that some people would always need conventional access by phone, post and in person.

Early candidates for boosting online participation included business registrations at companies house and university admissions.

Around 80 percent of university applications are already done over the web. Converting as many of the final 20 percent as possible to online applications could deliver significant savings, the spokesman said.

In the longer term, the government hopes to save money by putting onto the internet welfare payment claims, all still paper-based at present.

"There is no excuse for not making quality online services the default solution for providing services for people needing Government services," said Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude.

"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," Maude said.

(Reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by Karen Foster)

FILED UNDER: