The government is set to save £500 million this year thanks to the digital by default agenda and the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, has committed to making the UK the most digital government in the G8 by 2015.
The government launched its Digital Strategy in 2012, tasking departments with a digital by default policy and promised to digitise some of the public sector’s largest transactional services in a bid to save £1.7 billion a year after 2015.
Of the 25 ‘high volume and high profile’ services across government that the Government Digital Service selected last year to transform into new digital products, one is live (student loans), 15 are in beta, six are in alpha, and three are in discovery.
However, Maude did recently admit that there are “inconsistencies” between departments and their digital capabilities.
The Cabinet Office has said that the savings being made are also being directly passed on to the taxpayer. For example, by digitising the paper-based ‘lasting power of attorney’ this has resulted in the cost of the service dropping from £130 to £110.
According to the government, 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.
“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,” said Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office.
“To win the global race and save hard-working taxpayers more money, we need world-class public services available online 24/7 from anywhere.”
He added: “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 savings announcement comes as the DVLA prepares to launch an online driving records service, which will be available for public testing in the next few weeks. This will allow all of the country’s 40 million drivers to access their licence data online and is set for a full launch in July.
The DVLA used an agile approach to develop the service, versus the more traditional waterfall approach to procurement, which it estimates has saved the agency £14.2 million in costs.