British Government services to go digital by default

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British Government services to go digital by default

Billions in savings the goal.

The British government is aiming to accelerate savings of billions of pounds through a redesign of its seven largest websites, making transactions between government, subjects and businesses digital by default.

A sweeping new digital strategy announced by UK Paymaster General and Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude will push tax payments, driving test bookings and other government-related transactions online, the Guardian reported.

Maude is expecting savings of £1.2 billion in the first three years and £1.7 billion annually from 2015 ($1.84 and $2.6 billion respectively).

Inland Revenue, the Departments for Transport, Work and Pensions, Business, Information and Skills, Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs as well as the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office are part of Maude's digital strategy.

Between them, the seven agencies handle 90 percent of all central government transactions, or over a billion a year across 650 services.

"Digital services are much more convenient because they can be accessed whenever you want them," Maude told the Guardian.

"They are also much more efficient, saving taxpayers' money and the user's time. Online transactions can be 20 times cheaper than by phone, 30 times cheaper than face-to-face, and up to 50 times cheaper than by post".

However, the Guardian's report notes that going digital for government services could disadvantage low-income groups and points to research that shows 18 percent of adults never or rarely using the Internet, while a further 12 percent are offline and unwilling to get online.

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