Government services on the box

UK online interactive, the portal to government services, has finally gone live on Sky Digital after months of preparation.

As part of its plan to get all government services online the ‘Government gateway’ will appear on Sky TV’s interactive menu, allowing users to access central and local government services including local travel, education and health information. The idea is to give more of the population access to the material, even if they don’t use the Internet.

But the problems highlighted last month by the House of Commons Select Committee are still persisting, with many of the frequently used services, such as the DVLA and passport office, offering only limited services.

As part of its research the Office of e-Envoy asked the public which services they would be prepared to use on their digital TV.

A total of 67 per cent said they would like to apply for a passport via interactive TV. Currently people can only apply for the relevant forms online, which they must then fill in and post back.

The ability to book a driving test was also popular, with 49 per cent of respondents welcoming this service. This service is already possible, but applying for a driving licence must still be done by post.

The Office of e-Envoy said it had taken onboard the criticisms of the Select Committee’s report and is working with government departments to push forward the rollout of online services.

“We have been overwhelmed by feedback from thousands of members of the public who are positive about the [interactive TV] services and like getting access to government services where they might not have done so online,” said Bill Edwards, director of e-communications at the office of e-Envoy.

According to figures by research group Jupiter MMXI, 78 per cent of households will have access to digital TV by 2007.

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