Tax, pensions and visas shift online in UK government overhaul

Tax, pensions and visas shift online in UK government overhaul

Summary: Whitehall has announced which public services will be made available online by 2015, with a view to saving up to £1.7bn a year through reduced staffing costs.


The UK government has revealed the public services that will be made available online as part of a strategy to save £1.7bn each year. 

By 2015 the government plans to offer online access to a tranche of services including tax self-assessment and applications for patents, visas, pensions and various living allowances. Each of Whitehall's seven biggest departments have chosen at least two major services that will be delivered online, the Cabinet Office announced on Friday. 

Government will scale back face-to-face, phone and postal delivery of these services after these online channels go live. The Cabinet Office claims the shift to online delivery will save taxpayers up to £1.2bn by 2015, and £1.7bn each year thereafter. Reduced staffing costs will account for the bulk of the savings, a Cabinet Office spokeswoman said, although public bodies will continue to offer alternatives to online access to these services.

The savings figure is an estimate that does not include the cost of switching these services over to digital delivery, or the potential savings from fundamental service redesign and back-end technology changes.

"Today we've set out exactly how we will make it easier for people to do things like apply for pensions and car tax online," said minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude in a statement. "As a result we will save people time, money and stress – while making the taxpayer savings in excess of a billion pounds and setting Britain up as a world leader." 

The government departments that will move services to digital delivery are HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the Department for Transport (DfT), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Home Office and the Cabinet Office.

Work to redesign these services will begin in April 2013 with a view to putting them live by March 2015. 

The shift to online service delivery was set out in the government's digital strategy, which is being led by the Government Digital Service (GDS), as part of its digital-by-default campaign.

Topics: Government UK, United Kingdom

Sam Shead

About Sam Shead

Sam is generally at his happiest with a new piece of technology in his hands or nailing down an exclusive story. In the past he's written for The Engineer and the Daily Mail. These days, Sam is particularly interested in emerging technology, datacentres, cloud, storage and web start-ups.

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  • The Government

    I do not see anything in the article that the government is going on-line also. This will save the tax payer even more money if they are let go too, we are supposed to be 'in it all together', alternatively they could reduce their hours to 5 hours a week just as the jobs which are coming out.
  • "...setting up Britain as a world leader"

    Hardly - in Scandanavia these services have been online for years. All my contact with the tax authorities has been online for at least 5 years. Nowadays it goes mostly via a smart phone but for more complicated questions traditional Internet is still needed. Three years ago I applied for Swedish citizenship, again via the web and three weeks later I was a Swedish citizen. Passport? Also via the web and I picked the passport up from the police station a couple of weeks later.
    This is more a question of Britain catching up...
  • Oh, goody! We're going to be a world leader in something , they told me so!

    Always supposing it works properly (government's not so great on computer contracts - remember the £12 billion that was lost on messed up super-system for the NHS? And then several billion more on another messed up system for the Home Office, a contract unbelievably given to the same company that had buggered up the NHS one).

    As for saving money? £1 billion is under 0.17% of the total government budget so don't look for an end to this counter-productive austerity just yet. Oh, and taking account of what keibr says, also backed up by a Norwegian friend, they'd better invest some of that money in a time machine (maybe the Doctor'll let them have his TARDIS for a bit at mate's rates) so they can go back a decade or so to do it then. I think we'd best just call it like it is; more Tory bullsh*t, with unbounded help and support from the Great White Myth of Nick Clegg, and leave it at that before my blood pressure goes too dangerously high from thinking about them.