The UK could save 24 billion pounds by 2020 through a more efficient use of technology within central and local government, according to a new think tank report.
Policy Exchange has urged politicians and policy makers to put technology front and centre of their thinking for the 2015 election in its Technology Manifesto, published today.
It sets out three principal goals: to build the world’s most connected and digitally skilled society, to make Britain the most attractive place outside of Silicon Valley for technology entrepreneurs to start and grow a business, and to make government the ‘smartest’ in the world.
In particular, it calls on the government to ‘save billions not millions’ by using technology to deliver next-generation citizen services – from securely integrating citizens’ online bank accounts with their tax returns, to allowing them to notify public and private organisations of a name or address change.
The report praises the government’s progress to date, in the use of technology to transform government services and processes – including the creation of gov.uk: a single website replacing more than 300 departmental and agency websites, as well as procurement changes with the launch of G-Cloud – an online catalogue of cloud-based services – making way for more suppliers.
These measures reportedly saved over £500million in 2013, with digitising public services projected to save around £1.7billion each year after 2015.
However, Policy Exchange said that digitising government services is not enough. Major work is also required behind the scenes with bespoke IT to be replaced with standard systems.
“As businesses have long known, IT is transformative only when it changes the way people work,” said Eddie Copeland, head of technology policy unit at Policy Exchange and author of the report. “That means breaking down silos, it means sharing more data, and it will almost certainly mean that fewer staff will be needed to perform particular tasks.
“The next government must not shy away from the hard but inescapable need for organizational change.”
The report recommends that, by the end of the 2015 parliament, the 150 highest-volume government transactions must be converted to the ‘digital-by-default’ standard. This means that 95 per cent of all citizen and business interactions with government would be conducted digitally.