The most recent ONS Statistical Bulletin – Internet Access 2010 about the UK public’s use of the Internet shows a gradual increase in the number of households with access to the Internet, with it reaching 73% in 2010. However, there remain some notable exceptions to those without it, who in many cases obviously don’t want it. There are obvious geographic exclusions, too, with the north-east, being the lowest whilst the north-west has started to climb the ratings, overtaking the south-west of England.
One of the standard reasons raised for the public not using e-government services is that they didn’t trust us, however in this survey this was one activity that didn’t seem to raise serious concern, unlike social networking or banking! Once upon a time I’m sure this report featured a question about public interest in accessing government services online but that seems to have dropped off. In terms of reasons for not having the Internet, the key ones were lack of need or desire, along with lack of skills. There is a slowly growing trend for those in the older age groups to have at least investigated it, whilst physical disability seems not to be a major limit, at all!
The report is supported by a specific bulletin entitled “e-society” by a Chris Beaumont, which appears to deliver a deeper analysis of the data, including the topic of e-government. The report actually states that:
“According to the ONS Opinions Survey, 46 per cent of adults aged 16 and over in the UK who had accessed the Internet in the 12 months prior to interview had obtained information from a public authority website in 2010. Just over 3 in 10 (31 per cent) had downloaded official forms while under 3 in 10 (27 per cent) had sent filled in forms over the Internet electronically. Men tended to use online public services more than women. Just under half (49 per cent) of men UK who had accessed the Internet in the 12 months prior to interview had obtained information from government websites compared with 43 per cent of women, while a third (33 per cent) had downloaded official forms compared with 28 per cent of women.”
Whilst I’m not sure what a public authority is defined as the statistics still seem rather low, when we are supposed to have 100% of services online since 2006!