Headlines: October 31st, 2002

A new report looks in detail at public attitudes to day to day contact with the government and the prospects for the electronic delivery of services.The research, from the Department for Work and Pensions, highlights a range of barriers which stop people taking up the department’s on-line services. They include general opposition to the Internet and specific concerns about aspects of services such as sending personal details on line.

Respondents were given more information about electronic service delivery as the survey went on. Initially only six per cent of those who answered said they would use the Internet or e-mail to contact the department. After hearing more about the possibilities of electronic delivery, fifty-one per cent said they would be very, or fairly, likely to use those methods.

The department says the findings show the public splits into three groups in terms of their ICT experience. In broad terms around half have at least some knowledge of computers and have used the Internet in the last year. Twenty per cent have used a computer but have little knowledge or experience and thirty per cent have never used a computer.

The majority of people rely on traditional methods to get in touch with government departments, particularly about benefits. One in three people had contact about benefits in the previous year and one in five of them said some aspect of the contact had been difficult.

People on lower incomes, the unemployed and those with disrupted careers are most likely to use face-to-face contact. Higher income groups make more use of the telephone and the self-employed are most likely to use the Internet.