Demand for online government services growing

The proportion of citizens using the internet weekly to check information about government services doubled between 2013 and 2014, according to new data.

Research by media watchdog Ofcom found that the figure rose from 9% to 18% last year, with the proportion checking once every three months rose from 30% to 36%

Overall, 78% of online citizens used the web to find information about government services in 2014, up from 70% the previous year.

The report said of the 2014 figures: “Internet users are more likely than in 2013 to have ever gone online for all public/ civic activities, and a higher proportion have completed government processes in the last three months.”

The figures showed that internet users aged between 35 and 44 were more likely to have sought information from public bodies online than younger citizens. Only 69% of the latter group said they had done so, compared to 88% of the former. Those aged over 75 are also less likely to have ever gone online to find information about public services (58%).

The survey also found that the proportion of the online population completing government processes online rose from 61% to 69% over the year.

Middle class households are also more likely to have found government information online than the average – 90% of the AB social group compared to just 67% of the C1 group.

Men are more likely than women to say they have ever completed government processes online (73% vs. 65%).

Half (52%) of all internet users who go online to complete government processes say they mostly use a laptop for this purpose, with one in four (26%) mostly using a desktop computer.

Less than one in ten (9%) say they mostly use a tablet or smartphone (9%), although the proportion among the lowest social group is much higher for smartphones at 16%

Among internet users who had never completed any government processes online, 32% said it is because they prefer some kind of verbal contact – either over the phone or talking to someone in person, or because they believe their task cannot be done online.

Colin Marrs

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