What UK citizens think about digital government

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What UK citizens think about digital government

Karl Flinders

Two-thirds of UK citizens already use the internet to interact with government, according to research.

A survey of 1,400 citizens in seven countries, including the UK, has revealed attitudes towards digital government. The Digital Citizen Pulse Survey, conducted by Accenture, suggested that 65% of UK citizens already use a website or portal to interact with public services. 

A total of 34% of UK respondents said it was easier to access government services digitally than private sector services, while 23% felt the private sector services were easier to access. The results across all countries showed that 29% believed public sector digital services were easier to access than private sector services, while the same proportion (29%) believed the opposite.

Late last year the Cabinet Office officially launched its Government Digital Service on the basis of Martha Lane Fox’s recommendation to the Cabinet Office as a way of saving the government billions of pounds by moving to a digital-by-default model. It was formed in August 2011 and has now moved from spanning six teams across four buildings with various different systems across Whitehall, to its own base.

Half of UK respondents said they would use social media to contact a government official in regards to a problem that required resolving, while 52% would use mobile devices to interact with government.

Recent research from YouGov found that British people are demanding more from social media platforms. This signals the importance for businesses and government to get their social media strategies right as users want more than just the ability to connect with others.

According to YouGov, 95% of 16-20 year olds and 74% of 21-24 year olds have accessed Facebook, for example, within the last month. But 41% of UK people are getting bored of social media, but usage is continuing to rise.

“Digital citizens are empowered in ways that previous generations could only imagine,” said Mark Lyons, Accenture’s UK managing director for health & public service. 

“They can initiate and dictate the dynamics of citizen-to-government relationships with a tweet, blog post or Facebook message sent to hundreds of people from their smartphone. And high-performing governments are working now to reshape the way they deliver public services to meet the changing demands of their citizens.”

Lyons said that governments around the world face a new reality of citizen expectations and need to shift the ways they deliver public services to reflect changing consumer preferences around communication methods. The “digital citizen” survey is one in a series of research studies Accenture is developing to analyse key issues and trends that affect delivering “Public Services in the Future.”


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