Better online public services could promote digital inclusion – but let’s stop short of a “public sector switchover” says Ofcom consumer chair
Government departments could stimulate demand for broadband services if only they would put the services that people use online, according to the chair of Ofcom’s Consumer Panel.
“Better, more interactive public services online could give more people a reason to get online,” said Anna Bradley, at the Westminster eForum in London. “By showing people how to claim benefits, get heath advice or study for a qualification, we can increase people’s skills and understanding and increase broadband penetration. We can also make savings for the taxpayer.”
Heavy users of public services, such as the elderly, are very often the ones who are not online, but unfortunately, the services they use most are the ones which are not currently available online, she said.
The ability to get a tax disk online at the DVLA is the most popular online service, she said, but others should be put online too.
Some have suggested a “public services switchover” which would shut down or restrict paper access to government services, forcing more people online, but Bradley suggested a softer approach of making more services available and improving access, to “encourage users to switch over”.
The remarks came a day before BCS announced a site designed to encourage more people to be “savvy” online and get the best use out of internet services.