Choosing fewer channels: public service delivery options in an age of austerity
Self service channels will save costs, improve quality and focus greater support on vulnerable citizens who need it the most
18 April 2011
The financial pressures currently faced by the public sector are so severe that public bodies are being compelled to shift to lower cost channels of service. According to a report launched today by Deloitte, the public sector needs to emulate the corporate world by driving citizens towards ever cheaper and more efficient ways of doing business. The time is now right not just to open up new online channels, but to mandate their use and to restrict expensive channels to those people who really need them.
Joel Bellman, public sector director at Deloitte, comments: “While there are a number of notable successes of the public sector making use of technology to deliver services more effectively and efficiently (such as HMRC’s online self assessment and the DVLA’s car tax applications), the impact of new self-service channels has been limited.
“Over the last decade the public sector has often treated digital services as an add-on to traditional paper, telephone or face-to-face contact rather than a replacement for it. Only a fraction of the potential cost savings have been achieved. Public bodies today must launch new digital services with the intention of permanently cutting the demand citizens make of them, and shifting many citizens away from expensive assisted channels towards cheaper self-service ones.”
Deloitte’s report outlines a strategy for public bodies to use when considering their customer interactions, whereby citizens are empowered to serve themselves, with the most expensive channels reserved for those customers who are most vulnerable and in the most need.
Bellman continues: “We expect to see new digital services launched arm-in-arm with rationing of expensive channels across the public sector over the coming years. This trend varies by sector, but is widely applicable across taxation, benefit payment, local government, education, health, environment and social care. Not only will it improve services and save costs, but it will prevent vulnerable citizens from being crowded out of the support they need by citizens who are better able to serve themselves online.
“Public bodies cannot hope to reduce their costs and make this sustainable unless they change the way that they do business. A successful self service model genuinely allows public bodies to deliver more for less, and to sustain this year after year without costs creeping back up in the future.”
Critical factors driving success will be:
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The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.
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