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UK starts measuring costs of transactions in Public Service


This month, the UK Cabinet Office launched a new website called Transaction Explorer which will display how much it costs the Government to deliver each individual use of services between state and the citizen. Data has been collected and published for 44 of the biggest public services, from passport applications to requests for fishing licences.

Across the biggest services in Government, the cost of a single transaction ranges from over £700 to as little as five pence. Such big variations seem strange, until you consider the difference between applying for a passport, with all the security checks and sophisticated printing that entails, and submitting a standard tax form. But complexity doesn’t tell the whole story. Digital is a big part of it too. Services where transactions are completed using digital channels generally cost much less – for example, booking a driving test costs £6.62 by post, £4.11 by telephone, but just £0.22 online

In general, a digital transaction is 20 times cheaper than one by phone, 30 times cheaper than a postal transaction and 50 times cheaper than a face-to-face transaction, the Cabinet Office estimates. Yet only half of all government services are available online, which creates plenty of scope to reap savings. Switching to digital transactions could save £1.8 billion ($2.9 billion) a year, argues Richard Sargeant, the Cabinet Office’s data-analytics guru.

Further info at:

The UK Digital Service (GDS):

Website of the new UK Transaction Explorer

The Economist