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Online government services and the offline older generation


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Press Release

Fujitsu Report: Transition to online public services could reinforce ‘digital divide’ for older citizens

Three quarters of older citizens would choose offline over online services

London, 7 July 2011 – New research suggests a potential ‘digital disconnect’ between local authorities and older people according to an independent study commissioned by Fujitsu. The findings of the report show a public sector keen to embrace the benefits which come from moving services online alongside some resistance from older citizens.

Key findings:

  • 55% of councillors do not believe accessing services by internet is difficult

  • 65% of older people say: “it would be difficult for me if local council services were only provided on the internet”

  • 94% of councillors say: “my council is encouraging more people to use the local council website for information about local services”

  • 73% of older people would still visit or phone the local council to receive services even if more services were online

  • 86% of councillors agree that more people using the internet to access their services saves their council money

  • Just 15% of older people have used a local council website to find information

In the wake of the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review all government bodies are under increasing pressure to move as many services as possible online. Against this backdrop, Fujitsu commissioned research to ascertain the extent to which this move online will affect certain groups who may be marginalised by the digital services transition.

Nicole France, Fujitsu UK & Ireland marketing said, “The public sector is under immense pressure to make cost savings, create time efficiencies and enable better citizen experiences. Moving as many services online as possible is one way to do it but this process has to be managed carefully and considerately. Fujitsu commissioned this report to explore people’s opinions more thoroughly and to create discussion to support the Government’s digital initiatives.”

France continues, “As one of the country’s two largest IT suppliers to the public sector, it would be easy to think that Fujitsu would be advocating a wholesale push online. But it is clear from our research that this would be a counter-productive approach. Instead we want to work closely with Government to develop digital solutions which achieve savings whilst also meeting citizens’ needs.”

Research company ComRes canvassed the opinion of local government officers, local government councillors and older members of the public. Input was also received during the process from leading age charity Age UK. The organisation’s chief executive Tom Wright provides a foreword to the report. 

Fujitsu believes that one of the starting points for Government to get more people to use online public services is to capture greater volumes of data digitally and to simplify document management processes. This will transform inter and intra-departmental communication and prepare government more profoundly for a new generation of public services. This tactic forms part of a 5-point plan – included within the report – developed to help the public sector.

1. Get the basics right – Provide high-speed broadband across the country; provide training, technical support, advice and guidance; ensure web accessibility guidelines are met and exceeded
2. Transform paper into digital – improve paper-based services
3. Push for seamless communication and better data transfer methods both inter and intra-department
4. Embrace new technologies – Such as tablets, kiosks, touch screen, interactive digital TV and voice-enabled software
5. Deliver well-designed multi-channel services – a deeper understanding of citizen profiles and using the right technology across the right channels

In addition to backing from Age UK, the report was also referenced by Martha Lane Fox – the UK’s digital champion and founder of Race Online 2012 campaign - at a recent Whitehall and Industry Group meeting hosted by Fujitsu. 

- Ends -

Notes to editors:
The report: “Online government services and the offline older generation” is available to download from the Fujitsu website now. Please visit:
http://www.fujitsu.com/downloads/EU/uk/pdf/research/age-report-exec-summary.pdf

About Fujitsu
Fujitsu is a leading provider of information and communication technology (ICT)-based business solutions for the global marketplace. With approximately 170,000 employees supporting customers in over 100 countries, Fujitsu combines a worldwide corps of systems and services experts with highly reliable computing and communications products and advanced microelectronics to deliver added value to customers. Headquartered in Tokyo, Fujitsu Limited (TSE:6702) reported consolidated revenues of 4.5 trillion yen (US$55 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2011. For more information, please see: www.fujitsu.com.

Fujitsu UK and Ireland is a leading IT systems, services and products company employing 11,400 people with an annual revenue of £1.7 billion. Its business is in enabling its customers to realise their objectives by exploiting information technology through its integrated product and service portfolio. This includes consulting, applications, systems integration, managed services and product for customers in the private and public sectors including retail, financial services, telecoms, government, defence and consumer sectors. For more information, please see: http://www.uk.fujitsu.com/   

For further information contact:
Stephen Smith                                                   
Harvard PR                                                     
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7861 2835                               
Email: teamfujitsu@harvard.co.uk
   
Graham Goulden
Fujitsu UK and Ireland
Tel: + 44 (0) 843 354 9568
Email: graham.goulden@uk.fujitsu.com