Sunday, March 31, 2013

UK - Warnings of "them and us" divide excluding those without Internet access from government services

The BBC reports that:
The government is in danger of creating a "them and us" situation by digitising public services, a report warns.
It quotes government ministers:
Ministers say 82% of "transactions" can be carried out online, as that is roughly the proportion of the population which uses the internet.
The source of the story was a report by the National Audit Office (NAO). This noted that:
. From our surveys we found that 83 per cent of people use the internet. Whether people live in a rural or urban area appears to make little difference to their internet use. Age, socio-economic group and disability do affect internet use. Over 90 per cent of those we surveyed who were online were experienced internet users who felt confident about completing online tasks without help. However, 7 per cent of those online lack confidence and may need help to use the internet
It identified problems:
  • People’s behaviour rather than their awareness of an online option could be a significant barrier (e.g., preference for face-to-face meetings)
  • People are generally not happy with providing personal information online
  • There is low awareness of some online public services
It commented:
... the government’s aim of making public services digital by default seems broadly acceptable to most people and small- and medium-sized businesses. However, there is far to go before digital becomes everyone’s chosen means of accessing public services. There are still significant numbers of people who cannot, or do not wish to, go online. The government has set out plans to help such people use digital channels but now needs to put these plans into action if it is not to create a ‘them and us’ problem for those not online

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