LeWeb London: Martha Lane Fox and Michael Bracken

Martha Lane Fox, UK Digital Champion & Michael Bracken, Executive Director of Digital, Government Digital Service, Cabinet Office with Roxanne Varza, Startup/Tech Journalist


After the accident, MLF used tech to keep in touch with people. She was asked by the last gov to help disadvantaged people get on line, There are 8m adults in UK not been online, mainly older and from disadvantaged backgrounds. Save money, connects people, gives access to jobs and services. That’s what she looks to encourage. A few years ago, MLF wrote a report, that may not be the heavy piece of thinking, but says if gov use web better and more efficient, we should not pay for sub-standard service from gov online, want to make it a better service.

MB is trying to make it easier to get people to access to gov services. It’s an engineer led section, dev quickly, fail fast, very different to usual government. They are being driven by user need – faster, cheaper and simpler. They behave as not in a monopoly. Previous behaviour was not good; they have a whole generation not engaging with state, so this is a chance to reset expectations. They run it as a startup. For example. testing gov.uk, eg stat maternity pay. Most people who use this, don’t want to answer a long form. Now its 3 questions to get the answer – how much maternity pay do you get. It is easier

MLF is saying the gov is looking around world for examples. THe UK gov is doing things differently, or trying to. look at techcity etc. It is hard and will take time, but is interesting. Some govs are acting like this, et Lithuania, etc they started from a different point, without the legacy. Lithuania thinks it’s simple, get gov online, the people are following. MB says the big challenge..the ones that get it right are small, or federated. But UK is complex, challenge is to make it fair. We need the innovation from tech companies, coming into the supply chain. THe tech infrastructure was held by a few large companies, We are breaking this down. It is expensive, and this model becomes more efficient. If good, then people will use this channel, which makes savings.

MB has taken contracts, not ness renewed, saved over half billion, as a by-product, as making better user services. We are working out what the potential value is. They need to be driven by user need, not just the numbers. They fall from £12 for face to face to <50p for digital transactions MLF looking at the other sectors, ef homeless charities. 50% of homeless people have mobile but the charities are not set up for this. So gov is one thing, the charities are another to focus on. MLF raised a challenge - race online, to get people online in UK. Getting people and companies behind this to get people online. Raceonline was OK, got 2.5m online but not all of them What is the barrier? MLF talks about the benefits. They need a reason. The defining thing about this organisation is they are trying to get activity across a huge number of organisations...the charity is 6 weeks old. We know the biggest barrier is people not understanding the benefits. They have a PC offering - £95 for those on benefits. They look at access as well. IT is only a small pilot at the moment, not results there yet. MB is looking at changing things quickly. Looking at open source. We left it to dev and engineers to select the tech that was the best for the job. We put it up on github and they drive to improve it. Changes model of gov selects and locks in, they are open about choices and if something is better, we will move this MLF is working with Alice Taylor (3D printing toys) A number of diff ones, putting social and tech together

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