'Digital by Default' Government Service to Save Billions

Seven of the UK government's major sites are to be redesigned in a bid to save £1.2bn within the next three years, with a view to improve other department sites responsible for customer interaction which would save a further £1.7bn annually from 2015.

Cabinet Officer minister Francis Maude hopes to make government services "digital by default" by launching a new campaign that will make everyday transactions such as tax payments and driving test bookings more accessible via the government's online resources.

"Digital services are much more convenient because they can be accessed whenever you want them," explained Maude. "They are also much more efficient, saving taxpayers' money and the user's time. Online transactions can be 20 times cheaper than by phone, 30 times cheaper than face-to-face, and up to 50 times cheaper than by post."

Currently, the government deals with more than a billion transactions per year across 650 services - with the seven departments earmarked for an overhaul accounting for over 90 per cent of central government transactions. These include the Department of Business, Information and Skills, Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs, Department for Transport, Department of Work and Pensions, the Home Office, the Inland Revenue and Ministry of Justice.

However, there is one considerable drawback - the change is likely to affect those within the lower-income bracket who cannot afford to access the internet. Statistics reveal that 18 per cent of adults "never or rarely" go online, although 77 per cent of UK adults use the internet at least daily.

Any new or revamped services launched after April 2014 will be required to comply with a new Digital by Default standard.

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