The proposal most likely to catch the headlines is for a “digital challenge” – an invitation to all local authorities to compete to be a pilot area for pushing community and public services as well as commercially-led activities as a pathfinder for other areas of the country. The final winner will get a £10 million prize, funded jointly by government and industry, to invest in their ideas.
DWP has three main interests in the strategy:
a. The emphasis on social inclusion provides useful context for our developing channel strategy, potentially opening up additional opportunities for our businesses and their customers in the medium term
b. The strategy is being used to reinvigorate, and slightly redirect, the e-government agenda. Most of the work in this area is on a slightly slower track, around the strategy being developed by Ian Watmore and the e-Government Unit intended for publication in the autumn, but this document emphasises the alignment between this document and the choice agenda and sends some cautious signals about moving towards a “digital switchover” from old channels to new – through stressing that “no-one will be denied access to services because they are delivered electronically”.
c. The social inclusion agenda includes a section specifically about internet access for people with disabilities, and reinforces and updates the requirement for government websites and online services to be fully accessible.