On 21 December 2012 the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude unveiled the list of the first wave of public services, which will be digitalised by 2015. The new digital services will give the public quicker and more convenient services suited to the 21st century, and will save taxpayers up to £1.2 billion (approx. €1.4 billion) by 2015 and around £1.7 billion (approx. €2 billion) a year thereafter.
To ensure the Civil Service can meet the rising expectations of the public, and deliver public services more cheaply and effectively, the Government has embraced a digital-by-default agenda. The first wave of services to go online includes:
Every single year, the Government handles over a billion different transactions across 650 different services. This initiative will facilitate those dealing with public services, taxpayers, civil servants and business. Digital services can be 20 times cheaper than doing the same thing by phone, 30 times compared to post, and 50 versus a face-to-face transaction.
The Minister said in this regard: “Britain is in a global race, and as the world has changed so must the Civil Service. In the past, online services from the Government were woefully worse than those offered by the private sector.” He added: “That’s why as we reform the Civil Service we are embracing a digital-by-default agenda to deliver the very best for Britain. Today we’ve set out exactly how we will make it easier for people to do things like apply for pensions and car tax online. As a result we will save people time, money and stress – while making the taxpayer savings in excess of a billion pounds and setting Britain up as a world leader. Like the best businesses, we will deliver services online whenever possible, to cut costs and put our customers in control. Members of the public will be able to access our information and services when it’s convenient to them. It will be these modern, digital-by-default public services – delivered by an exceptional Civil Service – that will give the British people the 21st-century government they deserve.”
For those using the public services, these changes mean they can access essential services at a time of their choosing, more quickly and at less personal cost. A 2012 study estimated that the cost of contact for face-to-face transactions averages £8.62 (approx. €10), for phone £2.83 (approx. €3.4), but for web only 15 pence (approx. €18 cents).
The Government’s digital strategy is a key part of ongoing reforms to the Civil Service. The progress made in delivering a government that is digital by default is the result of civil servants across departments embracing new ways of working and acting as one. Civil servants are now working side-by-side with software developers, content editors and designers using open source digital version control systems.
Note: Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.