play_circle_filled In progress

Government Government

Make government services digital by default

Last updated: 03:20pm 8 December 2019

We will therefore create a new presumption of digital government services by default…

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.80

Our verdict

The UK is globally recognised as a leader in the roll-out of digital public services. The 2010-2015 coalition government introduced the concept of ‘digital by default’, a standard under which government services should be available online, straightforward, convenient and fully accessible. With internet use rising and the opportunity to make savings through digital transformation, this policy promised to develop the standard into a new presumption of digital government by default.

According to 2019 research from the Institute for Government, since 2012, public services available online rose from the initial 25 to nearly 800. This suggests the government continued to support ‘digital by default’ standards. On the other hand, some ambitious initiatives, such as a digital 2021 census and Verify – a platform allowing citizens to verify their identity online – are yet to be fully implemented.

Also, a report from the Science and Technology Select Committee in July 2019 found that “political leadership in digitisation has been lacking in recent years”, leading to “a slowing in the government’s digital momentum”.

The government is continuing the rollout of the ‘digital by default’ standard, supporting the modernisation of services. However, the manifesto promises a “new” presumption of digital government by default, and we have not found new standards being set in this area. In the absence of such evidence, particularly in light of concerns around progress raised in the select committee report, we think this policy has to remain ‘in progress’.

Get the details – by default!

There's always room for debate

We’re serious about providing clear, up-to-date, non-partisan information. We focus on being consistent and fair in how we reach our verdicts, and always explain our reasoning. But there is always room for debate. So if you see it differently, we’d love you to tell us why. Or even better, submit an edit.