Stronger focus on digital inclusion says renewed Government Digital Strategy

One year after its launch, the Cabinet Office's Government Digital Service (GDS), charged with driving the Government Digital Strategy, has announced a renewed commitment to digital inclusion.

Francis Maude, Minister, Cabinet OfficeAn update, reflected as 'Action 15', to GDS's Government Digital Strategy will "ensure no one gets left behind as government goes digital by default, by helping departments think about what they can do to help people get online, and also what they need to do to assist people who may never be able to".

The GDS's first year report says it has started to assess the successes of digital inclusion initiatives, based on work with cross-sector organisations and digital skills charity Go ON UK and outcomes of work undertaken by a GDS cross-department team that aims to increase digital skills. GDS is also investigating the reasons why older people are completely or
partially offline and held market engagement events to identify potential suppliers.

The results will feed in to a digital inclusion strategy to be published in the Spring. "We'll be consulting the public on these principles, a first step towards a digital inclusion strategy. This will say what departments, partners and GDS will do to help people go online", says the annual report.

GDS is also working with all 25 digital 'exemplars' to ensure that they have built assisted digital provision into their plans at the very earliest stages. On its first birthday, the Service announced that following the 'discovery' stage of the online Criminal Record Check, GDS and Home Office have agreed to scrap the service and are investigating replacing it with an HM Passports Office service.

"The last year has seen us take unprecedented steps in making government digital by default", said Mike Bracken, Digital Director of GDS. "By working with departments, we are doing things that no government has ever accomplished. I'd like progress to be more consistent."

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General agreed that progress was uneven across departments. He said: "Over the next few months it's full speed ahead for our digital transformation work", said. "Some departments have made more progress than others, but what this report tells us is that the digital revolution Martha Lane Fox [author of the initial Government Digital Strategy] talked of has taken hold".

The Cabinet Office also announced that the deadline for the transition of agencies and arm's length bodies' websites to GOV.UK will be extended from March 2014 to July 2014.