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Government outlines which departments will go digital

Digital plans have been laid out for several of the government’s departments.

The government has revealed which of its departments will be the first to go digital with public services in a bid to cut spending and save taxpayers’ money.

According to the Cabinet Office, one of the first ‘exemplar’ digital-by-default services will be the National Apprenticeship Service, with candidates given the ability to search for vacancies online for the first time.

Part of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will also be digitised so that farmers have another platform with which to apply for and receive payments, while entrepreneurs will be able to track and manage patents via the Intellectual Property Office.

Making the online tax self-assessment programme digital will also help 30 million pay as you earn taxpayers to contact HMRC with issues surrounding their tax codes, something that could lead to a more streamlined service.

HMRC expects the move will save £1 million a year in data management costs, as well as providing a more secure method of document storage for the department.

However, better data protection measures may be necessary across all departments to ensure sensitive information is protected from hackers.

"We’ve set out exactly how we will make it easier for people to do things like apply for pensions and car tax online. As a result we will save people time, money and stress – while making the taxpayer savings in excess of a billion pounds," said Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.

Deputy director at the Cabinet Office’s Government Digital Service (GDS) Tom Loosemore added: "For the first time, government now has a collective ambition level which befits the expectations of our users in a digital age."

According to the recent draft Digital Strategy published by the GDS and seen by Computer Weekly, up to £1.8 billion a year could be saved by moving offline services to digital channels.

This was worked out using estimates suggesting that each hour-long transaction with a member of the public costs £14.70, with more than a billion transactions across 650 different services handled annually.