Public expects government to digitise services in two years

23 May 2024 3 min. read

The digitisation of important business services – including insurance, utility bills and banking – has become the norm for the British public, but many are still left frustrated when trying to access online services from the government. Now, a poll of UK citizens has found 66% expect fully digitised public services within the next government’s first term.

In an election year, with a potential change of government on the cards, UK residents have made it clear that they expect this to be a priority for whoever is in 10 Downing Street at the end of the year. Professional services and technology company Nortal surveyed 2,000 individuals, and found that 66% want to see the UK government deliver a fully digital suite of online public services. Of those respondents, 85% said they expected the shift to occur within the next two years – sending the winners of the 2024 general election a clear message to act quickly.

“The message from the UK is loud and clear - the standard of digital public services needs to improve. People today expect their digital experiences with the government to mirror the slick, seamless and simple interactions they get from private sector services,” said John Cheal, UK public sector lead at Nortal. 

Public expects government to digitise services in two years

While improving online interfacing and security have enabled many of the most sensitive forms of private business to move into the digital realm in recent years, many public services remain frustratingly manual. UK residents spent on average a total of 12 hours engaging with government public services in the last year – heading to town halls or sitting in queues on the telephone for a range of problems and changes – equating to 75,000-years’ worth of time lost annually for the UKs working population, according to Nortal.

When asked which features they would like to see from private sector digital services become the norm in the public sphere, the respondents plumped for two clear answers. What they liked most about app-based private sector services was time-saving, at 38%, and simplicity and ease of use at 33%. In contrast, 29% of those surveyed who were dissatisfied with the government’s current digital offering said that issues took too long to resolve, while 28% found the process of interacting at all with services too time-consuming.

While those surveyed were clear in their expectations, however, few seemed to believe that their calls would be answered. A 31% portion said they were not confident in the current government’s ability to deliver digital public services in the near future. Similarly, 47% agreed that government agencies would not be able to achieve the same level of digitalisation as companies in the private sector.

Cheal concluded, “We’re still seeing too much time wasted by people when it comes to dealing with the government and waiting for issues to be resolved - time that can be better spent elsewhere. In an election year, improving the productivity of the UK. will be a focus for the main parties and, it’s clear from our research that a simple way to do this is to move faster in getting to a future with high-quality digital services at the core. But this must and can be done in a way that doesn’t leave segments of society behind.”