The UK government is falling behind its European counterparts when it comes to providing its citizens with e-government services, according to a report form research firm IDC.

Ireland, France and Finland were voted the top three countries when it came to providing easy-to-use systems to enable people to contact and interact with their government.

Although Ireland’s population has been fairly slow to take up the services, those on offer enable citizens to apply for jobs online as well as pay tax and National Insurance contributions.

But the UK is nearer the bottom of the table with a long way still to go before meeting its 2006 deadline for getting all services online.

The results will come as a blow to the government which was criticised just six months ago by the Treasury in its so-called Green Book report. The study found the government’s targets and cost estimations were far too optimistic and attacked certain government sites for being poorly maintained.

“We are working to make services as accessible as possible, this comes through trial and error and public feedback,” said a spokesman at the Office of the E-envoy, the department responsible for bringing government services online. “We are still on target for our 2006 deadline.” IDC predicts European e-government services will grow by 13 percent to $2.8bn (approx