European Commission says UK government "lagging ahead" on digital services

Latest ranking of digital services in the EU puts UK top for open data – but slipping on use of online forms

By Colin Marrs

31 May 2016

The UK has slipped to 16th place among the 28 European Union member states in a ranking of their digital public services, according to a new survey.

The 2016 Digital Economy and Society Index – produced by the European Commission – shows the UK down one place from the 15th place it achieved last year.

While the UK continued to be the top-ranked member state for its open data policies, it fell short in other areas – particularly pre-filled forms on government websites.

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Its overall performance put it in the “lagging ahead” category for countries that score above the EU average but whose score grew slower than that of the EU as a whole over the past year.

“Modern public services offered online in an efficient manner are a vehicle for efficiency gains for enterprises, citizens, and the public administration itself," the report said.

“While active eGovernment use is somewhat above the EU average, online service completion and in particular the sophistication of provisioned services could be improved.”

The survey found that 34% of UK internet users filled in a form and returned it to a government body online during 2015, putting the country 16th on this measure. The previous year, the figure was 37%, with the UK ranked 13th.

But the UK scored poorly on pre-filled forms in this year's survey, coming 26th out of the 28 member states, down one place from last year’s 25th position.

It did slightly better in a ranking that measured the steps in a life event – including starting a business, losing and finding a job, studying and starting a small claims procedure – that can be completed online, but was still down from 16th in 2014 to 20th in the most recent survey.

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