Martha Lane Fox calls for radical public service reform

The government’s former digital tsar Martha Lane Fox has called for a ‘reinvention’ of public services for the digital age.

Lane Fox, who stepped down from her role as UK digital champion in 2013, is now chair of digital inclusion campaign Dot Everyone.

In the organisation’s response to culture minister Ed Vaizey’s consultation on the UK digital strategy, she said that the government needs to fund radical reform.

She said: “There is much excellent work being led by GDS on transforming digital public services.  

“But we need also to be even bolder than this and begin to design services for the near future.  

“What should a hospital or schools look like in 2025 if we were to design them around people’s needs rather than the needs of consultants or teachers or those of government departments?”

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Vaizey recently called on people and businesses to email him with their recommendations for the UK’s Digital Strategy.

In Dot Everyone’s response, Lane Fox also said that the UK should have a goal of being the world’s leading network economy by 2025.

She also called for a new digital skills fund to support citizens with low or no digital skills, citing people who have recently lost jobs in steel towns such as Redcar and Port Talbot.

She said: “It is a national disgrace that more than 12 million adults in the UK lack basic digital skills, with almost half of these people of working age.  There is an overwhelming business case for investment.”

In addition, Lane Fox continued, the UK Government should set a goal for half of tech sector jobs to be occupied by women by 2025, with an interim target of 30% by 2020.  The figure currently stands at 17%.

She said: “This gender imbalance affects us all. We have a national digital skills crisis. There are 600,000 unfilled jobs in the technology sector, forecast to rise to 1m by 2020. If we do not understand why and try to rectify it we are missing out on half of the talent pool. 

Colin Marrs

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