Despite the number of public services being made available online in the UK increasing dramatically in recent years, citizens’ use of these e-government services is declining and has dropped to 2008 usage levels.
This is according to the latest scoreboard provided by the European Commission (EC), which rates member states on how they are performing on their Digital Agenda initiatives, which were laid out in 2010 in an attempt to boost investment in, and use of, digital technologies.
Some 97 percent of public services were available to citizens online in 2010 (the latest available figures), up from 79.5 percent in 2007, ranking the UK ninth out of all the member states, with a score well above the European average of 80.9 percent.
However, this has not resulted in greater use of these services, as the percentage of the population taking advantage of e-government in 2011 was just 39.7 percent, which is below the European Union average of 41 percent, and at similar levels to 2008 (39.6 percent).
In 2010, 48.1 percent of the UK’s population were using online services, meaning 8.5 percent of the UK’s population has actively stopped interacting with the government online.
This regression can be contrasted to Germany and France, which have increased and maintained their population’s use of online services above the European Union average to 50 percent and 56.8 percent respectively.
Both the Czech Republic and Latvia have also now overtaken the UK, where they have increased the use of e-government services to 42.2 percent and 41.3 percent respectively. Both, again, above the EU average.
This will not come as good news to the UK government, which has been upping the ante on its digital agenda in recent months. In response to a Martha Lane Fox report in 2010, the government confirmed plans to implement a 'digital by default' policy.
A Civil Service Reform plan, published today, has tasked central government departments with publishing plans by the end of the year to make services digital by default.