As part of the government’s drive to increase transparency and accountability, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that internet entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox will be the new ‘UK Digital Champion’. Her role will focus on encouraging as many people as possible to go online, and improving the convenience and efficiency of public services by driving online delivery.
Ms Fox, who co-founded the internet site lastminute.com, will be supported by the Cabinet Office in her role of advising and challenging the government, the wider public sector and industry on making faster progress on getting more people and services online.
She will also sit on the Efficiency Board, which is co-chaired by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, and which oversees the government’s efficiency and reform programme.
In the first instance, the PM has asked Ms Fox to:
- continue the Race Online 2012 campaign, which she founded, to encourage as many people as possible to get online, which ties into her work on building the Big Society with government adviser Nat Wei
- advise the government on how efficiencies can be best realised through the online delivery of public services
- leading work to drive efficiencies through the greater use of online services across government, including the transformation of Directgov
The PM said:
I am delighted that Martha Lane Fox will be our Digital Champion, encouraging more people to go online and access the information and services they need. Getting online can help people save money, find a job, access services in a way that works for them, and make connections with each other and with their community. It will also help us all to drive down the cost of delivering public services.
Mr Maude, who leads the government’s transparency and efficiency agendas, said:
Making sure everyone, no matter where they live or who they are, can reap the benefits of online services has never been more important and I’m looking forward to working with Martha Lane Fox to make sure this happens more quickly.
This work is about more than putting more information online. It’s about reducing the cost of government and at the same time really improving the delivery of public services and making them more easily accessible and easy to use.
And as things start to change in government, I believe this new digital drive will play a key part in our ambition to build a Big Society and help get people more involved with their local neighbourhoods.
Ms Fox said:
There are more than 10 million adults in this country who have never used the internet and it is my mission to get as many of them online as possible. At the moment they are missing out on the massive advantages of being online which the rest of us take for granted, including average consumer savings of over £560 a year and the ability to access vital public services, and I want to change that.
And whilst helping to bridge the digital divide is hugely important in its own right, there are also compelling economic reasons why we need to get everyone online. For example the government could save millions of pounds each year simply by doing transactions online rather than on paper or over the phone.
Notes to editors
Read the Prime Minister’s letter in full.
The government has committed to make immediate savings of £6.2 billion. Find out more about the government’s efficiency and reform programme, which is chaired jointly by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Minister for the Cabinet Office.
Nat Wei is the government’s adviser on the Big Society.
For more information on the Race Online campaign visit the Race Online 2012 website.
Martha Lane Fox co-founded lastminute.com in 1998 with business partner Brent Hoberman, floated the business in 2000 and remained on the company’s board until its sale in 2005. It is currently still Europe’s largest travel and leisure website. Martha is founder of Lucky Voice which currently has five bars and a growing online application. Martha is also Founder and Chair of antigone.org.uk, her own grant-giving foundation, which supports charities involved with criminal justice, health and education. Martha is a Non-Executive Director at Marks & Spencer plc, Channel 4 Television and Mydeco, She is also a Trustee of Reprieve. In 2009 Martha was appointed the government’s first Champion for Digital Inclusion.