UK ‘lagging ahead’ on public digital services

The UK’s digital public services have slipped to 16th place among the 28 European Union member states, according to a new survey.

The 2016 Digital Economy and Society Index shows the UK down one place from the 15th place it achieved last year.

While the UK is the top-ranked for its open data policies, it fell short in other areas – particularly pre-filled forms on government websites.

Commenting on the UK’s performance on digital public services, the report said: “Modern public services offered online in an efficient manner are a vehicle for efficiency gains for enterprises, citizens, and the public administration itself. “While active eGovernment use is somewhat above the EU average, online service completion and in particular the sophistication of provisioned services could be improved.”

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The survey found that 34% of UK internet users filled in a form and returned it to a government body online during 2015, putting the country 16th on this measure. The previous year, the figure was 37%, with the UK ranked 13th.

But the UK scored poorly on pre-filled forms in this year’s survey, coming 26th out of the 28 member states, down one place from last year’s 25th position.

It did slightly better in a ranking that measured the steps in a life event that can be completed online, but was down from 16th in 2014 to 20th last year.

Life events are defined as: starting a business, losing and finding a job, studying, regular business operations, moving house, owning and driving a car and starting a small claims procedure.

The UK continued as the top ranked member state for open data policies and practice.

Its overall performance put it in the “lagging ahead” category for countries that score above the EU average but whose score grew slower than that of the EU as a whole over the past year.

Colin Marrs

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