Having reported on the recent document from Race Online 2012 entitled “Getting On” and noted in the response to a comment the fact that Fujitsu have done a report on the same subject area, I thought a review of the full hardcopy document from Fujitsu might be worthwhile. The Fujitsu report is entitled “Online government services and the offline older generation” and as well as a PDF download is available as a glossy 54-page A4 book.
For the most part the document is full of useful information based on research with councillors, council officers and the ‘older generation’ i.e. those aged over 60 or in some cases over 80. My main disagreement with the report is when in its final pages it drifts off into debateable arguments attempting to support CRM systems, along with managed and shared services. Otherwise the report is pragmatic. The foreword by the Fujitsu UK CEO states that Fujitsu recommend “that the government takes a more considered approach” and that “to move directly to a “digital by default” solution runs the risk of alienating much of today’s population”.
As a warning to government the report announces on page 6 that “more than 70% of older people say that if more services were provided on the internet, they would still visit or phone their local council to receieve services”. Oh dear! And so it goes on – “encouraging older people to go online and access council services in order to meet government objectives for cost reduction and performance improvements will be a significant challenge”. So, if only 8% of older people might consider using the internet to pay council tax (page 10) and if 93% of older people are unlikely to apply for pension credits online (page 11), government has, as the report states, a challenge.
In addition, on page 19 it is noted that of 100 local council websites, only 21 had a clean bill of ‘accessibility’ health, which does not encourage older uses, but they are similarly discouraged by ‘fear and a lack of confidence’ in using the internet. A definite trend by social class within the older population is also identified.
The clear solution according to the report is to tidy up our web and other forms of service delivery to ensure that older people will use them. So less of a race and more of a ramble.