Headlines: August 24th, 2005

The government believes English local government is well on target to be fully e-enabled by the end of this year. New statistics show that by the end of March the average council had just over three-quarters of its services available electronically. Meanwhile more money is being made available for Government Connect, which will improve security of online transactions between public bodies.The latest progress report on efforts to meet the end of the year deadline for full electronic enabling marks the turning into the home straight according to Local e-Government Minister Jim Fitzpatrick. It shows that 77 per cent of services were electronically enabled by March, compared with just 26 per cent three years earlier. By the end of next month, councils forecast that 93 per cent of all priority outcomes for local e-government will be at ‘amber’ or ‘green’ for implementation.

The statistics show, for example, that people in almost 200 council areas can now submit planning applications or calculate their benefit entitlements online. There is almost universal online coverage for renewing library books, accessing public transport information and viewing council reports and committee minutes.

There is evidence, too, of the savings being brought about by implementation. The progress report shows 115 million pounds in efficiency gains in 2004-5 as a direct result of investment in Local e-Government and says that will rise to 277 million this year, and to 362 million in 2007-08.

Mr. Fitzpatrick said, “The report underlines that the December 2005 target is well within the reach of local authorities, and reaffirms the huge potential for efficiency gains. The report also points to further areas of work up to the end of the local e- government programme in March 2006. This includes additional support for councils to help them improve the take-up of e-enabled services and realise the full benefits of their investments.”

Meanwhile Government Connect is to get 7.5 million pounds this year to support its development and initial rollout. The project will work towards providing improved security for on-line transactions between public organisations and improving electronic service delivery by central and local government. It focuses on supporting personalised, joined-up citizen-based services and back office transformation.