Two thirds of UK citizens consider the current development of digital public services to be ‘advanced’, with nearly one in five (17%) accessing services online at least once a month. This is according to a study carried out across the UK, France, Germany and Norway by Ipsos on behalf of Sopra Steria. 83% recognise that public sector has increased the number of services available and 66% of citizens find it easier than ever to access online services through government websites – their online ‘storefronts’.
The Citizen View of Government Digital Transformation found that rising expectations are increasing the demand for a wider range of services, which citizens expect delivered in a less fragmented, joined-up way. While 65% consider taxation to be the UK’s most advanced online service, an increasing number (54%, a 5% increase from 2016) consider health to be requiring the most improvement.
Citizens also want better integration behind the scenes. The greatest frustration cited by UK citizens in accessing digital services was the need to retype the same information multiple times. Nearly nine in ten surveyed highlighted the need for a one-stop digital portal (87%), or online citizen account (85%) to improve access and experience.
The research has also revealed the persistent barriers to the digital delivery of public services. Nearly half (48%) remain concerned about the risk of someone accessing the data they must put online, and 39% are worried about putting information about themselves on the internet. These concerns illustrate government’s need to build robust and interoperable safeguards, especially when working across third party environments. There is a perception gap to overcome as well, as only 4% surveyed think the UK government has the will and capacity to transform public services through digital.
Philip Craig, Strategic Director, Government Sector at Sopra Steria, commented: “Our survey reveals how efforts to provide a better digital service to citizens are having a real impact in the UK and across Europe. However, these results are no reason for complacency. Creating an intuitive access point or digital ‘storefront’ is only the first step in achieving true digital transformation. Work remains to reimagine the infrastructure, governance and even culture that underpins these services. By committing to that process, governments will have the best chance of providing services that citizens trust, and allow us all to benefit from the substantial economic and social benefits that integrated access brings.”
Adrian Fieldhouse, Managing Director, Government Sector at Sopra Steria, added: “These findings reflect much of what we are hearing and seeing in the marketplace; citizens and civil servants alike want the digital agenda to enable a more integrated experience, with data sharing and interaction handling processing across organisational boundaries. Unlocking this potential allows brand new service models that enable citizens to seamlessly navigate the public services they need regardless of source. In order to realise the future all parties are so keen to see, the UK Public Sector must use data much more effectively, identifying it as an asset where it currently sits, understanding how to extract it and, most crucially, figuring out how to refine it to drive cross-agency change.”
- UK citizens are enthusiastic about the Government’s digital ‘storefront’: 66% of UK citizens believe that digital tools and services are increasingly easy to use, and 83% recognise that the public sector has increased the number of digital public services.
- Significant progress has been made in the UK’s ‘Digital Literacy’, but accessibility is still a priority: Over half of the surveyed citizens told us they are completely autonomous users of digital public services but 40% sometimes needed help and 9% experienced more significant difficulties.
- Presenting a more integrated, and less siloed solution would streamline services: Having to retype information multiple times was first among frustrations in accessing digital public services. Citizens want a one-stop digital portal (87%) or an online citizen account (85%). Achieving this requires significant alignment by different parts of the government, but the potential rewards are substantial.
- Governments must understand and address the largest barriers to digital public service: 70% express low confidence in the security of digital data, an increase of 17% over 2016. 48% worry that someone else will access their data or accounts. Governments must redouble efforts to enhance controls, detect violations and quickly return to normal operation after any attack.