Lord Wallace, the Cabinet Office spokesman in the House of Lords, has recently said that he is not as worried about the delay in the government’s broadband roll out as he is about the fact that citizens are still not using public services online as often as they should.
According to Lord Wallace: “60 per cent of the population have shopped online and continue to shop online but less than 30 per cent have accessed government services online… That is where we hope to catch up.” He admitted that he the only time he used online services was to renew his driving licence,
In May, the European Commission had said that under 50% of EU citizens use digital public services and those who did said that online banking and shopping gives more satisfactory results than online government services, which is not good news for the UK government’s Digital by Default agenda.
Lord Wallace also commented that the design of assisted digital provision was in its early stages, aimed to help 3.8 million disabled adults in the country who were not familiar with the internet. However, Former Labour Cabinet minister Lord Reid was of the opinion that this was coming too late in the day: “We are now decades into the internet… We are at least a decade on from envisaging digital services. Whether it is a matter of the social justice of excluding people who cannot use this, of hygiene and security on the internet or, indeed, of the chronic shortage of skills that we have as regards cyber for the future, will the minister reassure us that, while he may be at an early stage in this process, rapid progress will be made?”