Building a strong baseline to deliver more innovative public services


A new report released today by techUK and Civica highlights how the pandemic has led to an increase in use of digital public services. However, legacy IT and technical debt are holding back modernisation. The report “Rebuilding our foundations – why the UK’s digital innovation agenda needs a modernised baseline to regain momentum” identifies how the UK can reshape its foundations to regain its place as a global digital leader.

The report is based on a survey of 1,000 UK citizens and interviews with public service and technology leaders. It found that 44% of citizens believe public services make good use of digital technology to enhance their lives. However, they believe it could be improved more.


Building on momentum

While we’ve seen several instances of Government moving quickly to implement new solutions to support the public over the last few months, 41% are still not confident in government’s ability to deploy emerging technology. Almost 20% of surveyed citizens have a more positive view of public service delivery since the onset of the pandemic, with 21% using digital public services more.

Henry Rex, Associate Director, Government and Health, techUK commented: “The ongoing crisis has emphasised the need to address long-term issues, including legacy IT. Only then can we open the door to further innovation. Legacy systems command significant resources, representing about half of central Government IT spend. Too often short-term decision-making has left many organisations paying for outdated, unreliable infrastructure, which hinder innovation and can pose a security risk. If we can make real progress in addressing this issue we will set the UK up very well for the next great leap forward in public service transformation over the coming decade.”

This security risk has a real impact on public views of service delivery. More than a third (36%) of citizens had concerns around data sharing from the Government or public service providers.


Public service leaders must grasp the opportunity ahead

From the 1st January 2021, the UK will no longer be bound to EU procurement regulations. With this comes the opportunity for a major overhaul of how government bodies procure and secure goods and services. This includes IT and technology.

Sean Massey, Managing Director, Central Government, Civica added: “The next six months will bring a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape how Government acquires technology. This comes at a point when addressing legacy investments, modernising existing IT estates and tackling technical debt is critical. Now is the time to build the foundations, to set a future-proofed baseline. In doing this, we can drive more innovative public services. By providing more modernised platforms and technologies that are easier to adopt, maintain and use allows departments to focus time and investment on the digital service improvements that citizens are calling for.”

The report considers what the public sector can do over the next six months and what could be achieved for the future if we continue to build a strong foundation for digital public services. It also highlights five steps towards public service technology success to help restart the UK’s momentum as a digital leader.