Labour has called on the next government to focus on digital inclusion by bolstering UK internet access and accelerating the digitalisation of the public sector.
Chi Onwurah, Labour MP and shadow Cabinet Office minister, said at a TechUK roundtable that the 2015 election winner "will be the most digital government ever".
Onwurah referred to Labour’s Digital Government Review last year, highlighting that the party wants a comprehensive change to the relationship between government and the Civil Service facilitated by technology.
“Used properly, with proper concern for privacy and transparency for service design, technology can be a powerful tool, and I believe it can help reshape how government and citizens interact with each other. But we need to establish the principals by which we operate,” she said.
Labour believes that digital inclusion across government, the Civil Service and the UK as a whole can be achieved by providing better access to the internet, focusing on the development of digital skills, and using technology to improve access to public services.
Onwurah highlighted three key areas of the report showing how technology will shape Labour’s manifesto and its approach if the party wins the election.
Firstly, Labour wants to address data sharing across government in a more structured way.
Onwurah described the government’s current approach as "chaotic", detailing how a "coherent and ethical approach" to data sharing could improve public services without encroaching on the privacy of UK citizens.
Secondly, Labour wants to drive the development of digital skills and leadership in the Civil Service to ensure that technology is put to effective use in transforming the public sector.
“The digital revolution cannot be restricted to a couple of departments in Whitehall,” Onwurah said.
“In the future government will be digital and civil servants need the skills and more importantly the motivation to inspire the prospect of using digital to improve all our lives, working with people as well as for people.”
Finally, Labour wants to increase the digitalisation of local government so that local councils can use technology to help regional businesses and communities.
Part of this will include focusing on the way technology can improve public services with direct results, rather than on adopting the latest "headline" innovations.
“We need to create the will to enable the next government to realise the prize of digital government,” concluded Onwurah.
Labour is not the only party championing technology in government. TechUK’s manifesto, which covered similar areas to Labour’s report, gathered the support of all three major parties.
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