Abstracts: April 20th, 2009

This report of the 2009 survey of local authority websites by the Society of IT Management reveals that 73 per cent of adults in the UK now have access to the internet, compared to 66 per cent last year. In some regions access is as high as 81 per cent.

The survey also shows that that the web is already the most used channel for accessing council services, and yet between 12 and 31 per cent of web enquiries end in failure. This leads to costly ‘avoidable contacts’ being generated for other, more expensive-to-serve channels such as the phone.

Eight sites achieved top (excellent) rating in the 2009 survey compared with five in 2008. Sites which are capable of carrying out transactions, as opposed to providing information have increased from 165 in 2008 to 191 in 2009. But only 25 per cent of sites meet the Better connected standard of ‘satisfactory accessibility’, as rated by the RNIB.

The Better connected report calls on local authorities to adopt a new strategic approach to ‘self-service’ as part of their response to the economic crisis – and sets out a blueprint for future website management to help them achieve this goal. It argues that for those authorities not yet committed to self-service this is an opportunity to develop a low-cost means to meet growing demand for council information and services.

Better connected 2009 is available at 415 pounds from SOCITM. www.socitm.gov.uk