The Government Digital Service (GDS) has released its Government Transformation Strategy policy paper that outlines major plans to use digital technologies to transform how the public sector delivers its services.
The aim is to facilitate the development of services that run across government departments - such as welfare (with Universal Credit) with the tax system - while also hardening cyber security in a way that "maintains our commitment to individuals' privacy".
Ultimately, the report adds, "we will transform government services and make government itself a digital organisation" - a claim that may ring hollow to anyone even remotely familiar with many failed, delayed and/or over-budget public-sector IT projects.
Nevertheless, the GDS claims that it will help to deliver these governmental transformation objectives with a programme of digital projects, such as Making Tax Digital for Business, developing the "right skills and culture among our people and leaders", and "build better workplace tools and processes to make it easier for public servants to work effectively".
The paper also promised to "make better use of data" in order to "enable transformation across government and the private sector" and to create and embed "good use of shared platforms and reusable business capabilities to speed up transformation".
The paper highlighted a number of key digital transformation projects already taking place in government, including Universal Credit, Digital Tax and Making Tax Digital for Business.
"Transforming tax and the end of the tax return" is intended to be implemented by 2020, with the aim of finally integrating disparate tax databases so that, for example, people filing their tax returns don't need to provide HMRC with information that it should already have.
It would also inaugurate the Personal Tax Account, making tax payment more flexible for anyone who has the pleasure of filing self-assessment tax returns. This will be intricately tied to Universal Credit, supposedly enabling a more flexible benefits system more capable of adapting to people's changing circumstances.
"Our award-winning Multi-channel Digital Tax Platform enables us to develop and deliver new services for the Personal Tax Account far quicker than ever before," claimed the paper.
It added: "Since the live launch in December 2015 we now have almost 7 million individuals using their online account for 50 transactional services, including checking their estimated Income Tax, claiming a refund, checking their projected State Pension, managing their tax credits and filing self-assessment returns."
Making Tax Digital for Business, meanwhile, "goes wider than just providing new digital interfaces for customers as it will also modernise and streamline HMRC's IT architecture behind the scenes to enable transformational process simplification".
Data, real-time, a single financial account and digitalisation form the basis of the programme that, the GDS argues, will reduce the administrative burden of tax on businesses by:
* Making more intelligent use of data, removing the need for customers to complete separate tax returns and/or provide HMRC information that it already holds and exploring the use of information from multiple sources to calculate tax liabilities or entitlements;
* Providing more real-time tax information, via organisations updating HMRC directly from their digital records on a quarterly basis;
* Implementing the single financial account, giving all customers a complete view of their tax liabilities and entitlements, with overpayments offset against liabilities; and,
* Introducing digital accounts, providing every organisation with access to a digital tax account with an up-to-date picture of their likely tax bill based on information they have provided, with the option to make voluntary payments as they go to spread the cost of their tax.
By 2020-21, it adds, Making Tax Digital for Business will have implemented the Business Tax Account.
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