The UK Government's ambitious plan to make all of its services available electronically by 2008 would still appear to have a long way to go because the British public are largely unaware of the initiative.
According to the egovernment Report, which was commissioned by Bull and conducted by Gallup, some 88 per cent of the 500 people surveyed between 15 April and 5 May this year had no idea of the government's intention to offer everything from benefit payments to council tax payments online.
But once the scheme was explained, 72 per cent said they supported it and 69 per cent believed egovernment would improve the services they currently received.
Barry Grisdale, chief executive of Bull UK and Ireland, said: "This is a highly important survey in terms of getting a true understanding of the issues that face the British government as it moves to an egovernment model." "The responses clearly show the public is behind the concept of electronic government, but also that there is still a lot of education to be done to ensure that the public has a positive response to these changes. Egovernment will only work if the general population accepts it and can see a personal benefit," he added.
Most respondents currently use the Internet as a research tool and said they would be most likely to employ egovernment as a source of information retrieval. Some 74 per cent said they would use it to find health information and advice, while a further 73 per cent said they were most likely to access benefits information.
Another 63 per cent said they would be happy to purchase their vehicle tax disc electronically, 58 per cent expected to pay their council tax this way, while just under two thirds said they would vote electronically when such a service became available.
Opinion was divided on the use of electronic ID cards, however, with 45 per cent of respondents saying they were sceptical about using smart cards and 43 per cent saying they were happy to do so.
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