Every citizen to have a webpage under new public services plan
Everyone in the country is to be given a personalised webpage for accessing Government services within a year as part of a plan to save billions of pounds by putting all public services online, Gordon Brown is to announce.
The Prime Minister has previously hailed the potential for the internet to slash the costs of delivering services by reducing paper forms, face-to-face contact with officials, postage, phone calls and building costs.
He is now set to use a speech on Monday to unveil plans to give every voter a unique identifier allowing them to apply for school places, book GP appointments, claim benefits, get a new passport, pay council tax or register a car.
Within another three years, the Times reported, the secure site would include a Facebook-style interactive service allowing people to ask medical advice of their doctor or consult their children's teachers.
The move could see the closure of job centres and physical offices dealing with tax, vehicle licensing, passports and housing benefit within 10 years as services were offered through a single digital "gateway", Downing Street sources told the newspaper.
Private firms such as Amazon could be involved in a bid to make the processes as simple as possible, it said.
But the proposals came under fire from union leaders who complained that thousands of public sector workers would be made jobless and pointed to the Government's poor record of handling personal data.
Questions have also been raised about the impact on some older people unable to use the internet.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: "Cutting public services is not only bad for the public who use services but also the economy as we are pushing people who provide valuable services on the dole."
Among the Prime Minister's advisers on the drive to put services online is world wide web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
"I don't want to go to a government office to do a government thing. It should all be online. That saves time for people and it saves money for the Government - the processing of a piece of paper and mailing it back costs many times more than it costs to process something electronically," he told the newspaper.
"There will come a point where you don't need all the physical offices any more."
The Tories are also exploring ways to switch services to the web.
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