Headlines: September 12th, 2000

Prime Minister Tony Blair has launched the UK online campaign without the portal ‘UK Online’ that is to give access to all government services. The contract for the portal, which eventually will be the citizen’s main connection to interactive services dealing with tax, employment, licensing, passports and other national and local government functions, was won by BT in April 2000. The launch was scheduled to be part of the campaign ‘UK online’ and initially it was to provide services relating to having a baby, going away, dealing with crime and moving home. A revised launch date has not been announced.The UK online campaign is a partnership between Government, Industry, the voluntary sector, and consumer groups to make the UK one of the world’s leading knowledge economies. The Government is working to ensure that everyone who wants it will have access to the internet by 2005 and to deliver all its services electronically by 2005. The campaign includes a raft of initiatives and major investment to get people, business and Government itself online. The first wave of partners in the drive to make Britain a leading knowledge economy include the CBI, the TUC, the IOD, the Consumers Association and major businesses, from BT to the Royal Bank of Scotland, from Microsoft to the BBC.

A major thrust of the campaign is to get people on line and this will be done by creating on line centres across the country where anyone can get training in how to use the Internet. The first 600 UK online centres have been set up in some of the poorest communities and the target is to create over 6000 centres including all public libraries.

The majority of UK online centres will also be learndirect centres, giving people a chance to go on to further training with their vocational courses. UK online centres will act as stepping stones to further learning so that the most disadvantaged people can acquire basic skills, confidence and motivation to progress.

The provision of Government services on line will be boosted by the one billion pounds earmarked in the Comprehensive Spending Review published in July 2000