Tablet use rises for government online processes

The proportion of people using a tablet to complete government processes online has risen sharply over the past year, according to a survey by communications watchdog Ofcom.

Its 2016 report into adults’ media use and attitudes found that 16% said they are most likely to use a tablet for these tasks, compared to 9% last year.

The percentage of those saying they mostly use a laptop – still the most popular device – has dropped from 52% to 45%, with 16% saying they use a smartphone – up from 14% last year. Only one in four mainly use a desktop computer.

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Ofcom’s report explored the profile and behaviour of people who used public services to do the seven following tasks:

  • look for news about or events in your local area;
  • look for public services on government sites such as and HMRC;
  • complete government processes online – such as register for tax credits, renew driving licence, car tax or passport, complete tax return;
  • look for information on public services provided by your local council;
  • sign an online petition;
  • look at political or campaigning websites; and
  • contact a local councillor or your MP online.

The report said: “Four of the seven public or civic activities have been undertaken by a majority of internet users: looking for news about or events in your local area (73%), looking for public services information on government sites such as and HMRC (68%) completing government processes online (66%) and looking for information on public services provided by your local council (62%).”

A third of internet users have never completed any government process online, with reasons varying.

Another third (34%) of the internet users who don’t complete government processes online say that this is because they prefer some kind of verbal contact, either by phone or by talking to someone in person, or because they think the process cannot be done online.

Across the whole of the society, nine in ten adults use a mobile phone, unchanged since 2010. However there has been a four percentage point rise since 2014 in the proportion of people using a smartphone.

Colin Marrs

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