Technology – Short of the mark.

Car tax and voting are what UK citizens want online from the government, while income tax – one of the few services operational through the government gateway – is the least desired service, according to a new report.

The second annual survey of public attitudes towards e-government, sponsored by KPMG Consulting and conducted by Mori, reveals the public recognises what the government is doing online, but isn’t enthusiastic about the current line-up of available services.

Nearly three-quarters of UK citizens recognise the government brand names UK Online, Learn Direct and NHS Direct, but only 24% are interested in using them.

Almost a third (32%) cited renewing car tax as their most wanted government transactional service, followed by voting, at 29%.

Andrew Pinder, the government’s recently appointed e-envoy, told Accountancy Age in an interview that hopes were high most government departments would be providing online services by the 2005 deadline and said he would concentrate on getting ‘major’ services online first.

‘I am pretty confident. What we clearly need to do is focus on those targets that are of major importance,’ he said.

‘I am going to be bothered about the major services, the big “high street departments” which affect most people’s lives and which people access millions of times a year.

‘Those have to be the areas that I focus on first.’

He added: ‘Most departments are on course to get their existing services online by 2005.’

The survey found most people would prefer to carry out electronic transactions in council-run centres or in their local post office, but the survey found that mobile phones, often touted as the precursor to handheld devices used for all digital needs, are favoured by only one in 100.

The survey also found only 7% cited security worries as the main barrier to using electronic services, with access and understanding a more significant problem, particularly outside London.

But the government may struggle to give the people what they want in the immediate future. The Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency has wrestled with its IT projects, particularly with attempts to build a new database, and citizens won’t be able to order a new tax disc online until 2005, according to the government’s timetable.

But online voting may be closer to being realised, as the government has pencilled in possible trial schemes for local elections from next year.

See the full Andrew Pinder interview at

Related reading