The UK government wants to save £1.2 billion by delivering new digital government services that are better for citizens and businesses, save taxpayers money and help the UK compete in the global race.
The proposals were announced by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude last week at the Sprint 14 event, a showcase for digital government.
Sprint 14 sees ministers and top officials give live demonstrations of 5 services which are simpler, clearer and faster for users: improved, more cost-effective services for PAYE tax, prison visits, electoral registration, driving records and visa applications.
The event marks the halfway point in the 400 working days the government set itself to put 25 significant public services online. These ‘exemplar’ services mark the first wave of digital transformation across government and will be live online in 2015. By providing digital public services, the government is on track to make cumulative savings of £1.2 billion in this Parliament for citizens and businesses, rising to an estimated £1.7 billion a year after 2015.
For example, HMRC demonstrated how 41 million PAYE employees can view and manage their income tax records and information using a ‘digital tax account’. At the event, the first part of the service is being showed - which will be made available to customers who need to notify HMRC of a change to their company car. Currently the only way these customers can manage their tax records is by telephone, paper form or letter, generating 680,000 calls and letters to HMRC each year.
Digital government services showcase
The service is being showcased at Sprint 14 alongside 4 other transactions:
1. Registering to vote
A live service to be used by the vast majority of people applying to register to vote. It will affect 5 million people registering online to vote each year and move 46 million voters from household to individual registration.
2. Applying for a visa
The applications process for Tier 2 Priority Visas, enabling recruitment from outside the EEA where a vacancy can’t be filled by a British or EEA worker – approximately 3.44 million visas of this type are issued each year.
3. View your driving record
How to view your driving record online, showing what vehicles you can drive, any penalty points and disqualifications. This will enable quick and secure online access to their own driving records for up to 40 million drivers.
4. Prison visits
The new online service for booking up to 1.5 million prison visits, the department’s biggest single transactional service, currently based on email, phone and manual systems.
More digital public services is good. But 10% people can't read/write. Internet access/fast broadband still not universal @cabinetofficeuk
— Will Roebuck (@ERADARtweet) February 4, 2014
Up-skilling the Civil Service and breaking down barriers
At the event, ministers and civil servants discussed other aspects of the digital revolution in government, including how the Civil Service up-skills to deliver these services and breaking down barriers that have prevented smaller, agile suppliers competing for and winning contracts.
Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:
"Our digital agenda is winning international recognition, creating a leaner, more efficient state. To win the global race we are drawing on the most innovative suppliers right across the country. Small and medium-sized digital and IT businesses from Tech City to Manchester, and from Leeds to Belfast are now getting work from this government.
Digitising public services is all part of our long-term economic plan to save hard-working taxpayers’ money and to give people peace of mind through high-quality public services which they can use when and where it suits them."
Mike Bracken, Executive Director of the Government Digital Service, added:
"A year ago we gave ourselves 400 days to transform 25 of the most significant services in government. Our strategy is delivery and, 200 days in, we’re delivering. We have great services up and running, most in beta, some of it live. Departments are rapidly getting the skills and resources they need to deliver digital services that rival the best in the world. We’re making digital public services as easy and convenient as online banking or booking a ticket online. Digital by default is becoming reality right across government."
It's good to see that progress is being made towards efficient e-government by introducing more digital government services. But we also need to ensure that current services are fit for purpose whilst the transformation to better online systems is sufficient. It's never acceptable to keep people hanging on a call centre line for more than a couple of minutes in an age of fast communications. Management and staffing levels at customer service centre is an annoying issue that never seems to go away.