Demand is strong for IT-enabled services

Demand is strong for IT-enabled services

Public sector must use technology to reshape services to suit citizens

The UK government must continue to use IT to improve public service delivery if it is to meet citizens’ rising expectations.

Despite considerable developments in the amount of health, environmental and community information available online, almost half (43 per cent) of the public expect more, according to the Cabinet Office’s in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the government in the next 10 to 15 years.

The public sector must respond to the implications of globalisation and improved access to information, says prime minister Gordon Brown in the foreword to the report.

“In 2008 we find ourselves facing new challenges,” said Brown.

“While economic prosperity combined with social justice and fairness will remain the twin pillars of my government, there is unarguably a need for change.”

Many of the report’s findings echo the principles of the review of public services conducted by former Inland Revenue chairman Sir David Varney in 2006.

Varney emphasised the role of IT in establishing citizen-focused services.

Key recommendations include identity management systems so that the public only has to tell the government once about changes in family circumstances.

The Cabinet Office report also highlights the role of remote health systems.

For example, NHS trusts in Kent are allowing patients to record blood pressure at home and transfer the data to their doctors, which saves time and money.

There is a considerable appetite for web services. Despite a glitch on the final day of the tax return deadline last month, more than 3.5 million people filed online, an 80 per cent increase on last year.