Save time and money is the key message of the e-Envoy’s campaign to encourage central and local government to use the Government Gateway as an alternative to in house development of online services. The Gateway, ukonline.gov.uk, is the citizen portal providing a one-stop shop to finding out about government in the UK and carrying out transactions such as submitting income tax and VAT returns.The e-Envoy claims that the Gateway provides a cost effective, easier and faster way for connecting back-office systems. Departments and local councils that use the Gateway can cut development costs by 1 -3 million pounds and reduce project timescales significantly. In addition, because all the facilities are tried and tested the risk is also reduced. These benefits result from facilities which include a customer authentication process, a form creation and submission system and transaction processing extending to online payments.
The marketing campaign has a strong focus on local government. Public services in the UK use 13,000 paper forms and 60 million customers make over five billion transactions annually. It is estimated that some 80% of this business is transacted with local councils. A council tax pilot project is due to go live in the summer, but other potential areas for using the Gateway include planning and building regulation applications, schools admissions, benefits applications and child minder registrations.
An additional incentive to use the Gateway is that viewers in almost six million homes will be able to access the service through ITV Digital’s ITV Active and British Sky Broadcasting’s Sky Interactive platform on digital satellite television. The UK online interactive pilot service, which is due to go live in the next few days, will provide UK online content on DiTV. By 2006, more households across Europe will be watching DTV than using the Internet. 78% of UK homes will have DTV by 2007 and the UK has the highest take-up rate in the world.