The government is on track to save taxpayers £500 million this year by tackling waste and inefficiency in its IT spend, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, announced today. The minister also committed to making the UK the “most digital government” in the G8 by 2015 and unveiled plans to put driving records online.
How the UK government is saving taxpayers money with digital public services
To ensure the country can live within its means, the government’s digital-by-default agenda is moving public services online. The government is on track to save the Exchequer, citizens and businesses a cumulative £1.2 billion by 2015. Savings will rise to £1.7 billion each year after the next General Election, helping to pay down the deficit.
The first wave of 25 “exemplar” public services will be live online in 2015, supporting an estimated 1.3 million students applying for loans, 46 million people registering to vote and 10 million self-assessing their taxes. The list, including the online driving records announced today, can be viewed at www.gov.uk/transformation.
The new exemplar digital services will save the Exchequer money, but will also improve the quality of services for users. For example, digitising the paper-based ‘lasting power of attorney’, which allows people to appoint someone to take decisions for them if they lose capacity, will bring efficiencies some of which can be passed to customers through reduced application fees. The government has already reduced the fees for this service this year from £130 to £110.
On average, an online service is 20 times cheaper than a phone transaction, 30 times cheaper than by post and 50 times cheaper than face-to-face.
Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:
As the Chancellor said this week, we need to make more savings so the country can live within its means. Our digital-by-default agenda is part of our long-term economic plan to tackle the deficit we inherited. I’m pleased to announce today that we expect to save at least £500 million from IT spend this year, on top of the £500 million we saved from government’s IT spend last year and £250 million the year before.
To win the global race and save hard-working taxpayers more money, we need world-class public services available online 24/7 from anywhere. That’s why it’s great news that DVLA is about to launch online driving records which can be used by anyone with a driving licence as well as by the insurance industry.
Back in 2010 our digital offering was limited at best and government IT was a by-word for disaster. There are still challenges but with the help of the Government Digital Service I am determined that the UK will be the G8’s most digital government by next year.
The announcement comes as the latest public service, driving records, is prepared for public testing online in the next few weeks. All of the country’s 40 million drivers will be able to access their licence data online. The service, which will be fully-launched in June, will also allow drivers to provide their driving licence number when they apply for insurance, so insurers can check their data and provide accurate quotes, helping to reduce premiums for honest drivers.
Appropriately the service has been developed using an agile approach to IT procurement which DVLA estimates has saved £14.2 million from the cost of building the service.
Oliver Morley, Chief Executive and Digital Leader at the DVLA, added:
Our aim is to maximise the use of digital to deliver high quality, customer-focussed services that work for everyone. Although some services cannot be delivered digitally, such as assessing a customer’s fitness to drive, we can improve the processes supporting the delivery of these services through making greater use of digital tools.
Countries around the world have started to look to the UK’s Digital Strategy for inspiration. New Zealand recently launched in beta its own version of the award-winning GOV.UK, based on the open source code for the UK’s single government domain.
The £500 million estimate for IT savings during the current financial year will be reported against in the Cabinet Office’s 2013-2014 Efficiency and Reform savings update, later this year. Previous Efficiency and Reform savings, and the methodology for their calculation, are available here: Government savings in 2012 to 2013.