Outdated Online Government Services Hurt Businesses

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Outdated online services from the government are impacting businesses, with tax being the worst culprit

A new report claims British businesses lose an average of 33 working days a year because of outdated government online services.

The EMC survey of 614 UK business decision makers also found that most businesses (41 percent) want a single online ID per citizen for interacting with government.

HMRC Confusion

Government servicesThe report reckons five hours a week could be saved if the services were brought in line with the types of modern application commonplace in the private sector.

And it seems that tax is the biggest bugbear for businesses after it was cited as the key area for drastic improvement. Indeed, over half of respondents wanted an online directory showing all available tax grants / breaks for businesses.

The overall digital services offering from the government were also criticised, with 62 percent of respondents who access services, saying that government online services lack ease of use and features commonplace with popular apps such as Facebook.

And the report identified a gap for government digital services in a number of key areas, with businesses wanting additional services for business support (39 percent) and health and safety (34 percent). But it is the online tax service that is causing the most headaches as this tends to be the most heavily used by UK businesses.

Businesses are asking that the government provides an online directory showing all available tax grants / breaks for businesses in one place (50 percent); personalised updates to changes in regulation / legislation (41 percent); and an online system with the ability to generate all the information / requirements a business needs to set up in one place using personalised data, e.g. local business rates (36 percent).

“There is an obvious demand for a more digitally focused Government and whilst some progress has been made with Government Digital Services, there is still more that can be done in application transformation,” said James Norman, Public Sector CIO, EMC UK & Ireland.

“Businesses need a more efficient way of interacting with Government and improving the accessibility of online services is one of them,” said Norman. “Creating a digital foundation made of data and not paper will be critical for the business growth in the future.”

Digital Lab

It was this time last year that the Government Digital Service (GDS) unveiled a new user research lab designed to help provide simpler, clearer and faster government services built around user needs.

Based at the GDS headquarters in Holborn, London, the state-of-the-art lab currently helps government departments produce digital services that best meet user needs.

Last month, Mike Bracken, the head of the GDS, announced he will leave his post on 30 September after four years. Bracken oversaw a major overhaul of the government’s online resources with the launch of Gov.UK in 2012.

And taking a more global view, it seems that the British government is not doing too badly with its digital services. The Cabinet Office has previously claimed that it leads the world, and the US and Australia are among those emulating the GDS model.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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