A call to government can cost the taxpayer up to £12. That’s all starting to change, says the government, as it starts to get more and more digital – offering as a prime example its new interactive service, GOV.UK Notify.
Framed as a ‘GaaS,’ or Government as a Platform service, the service is the latest offering out of GDS, which the Cabinet Office says has a £450m war chest to transform the way government works with citizens. The idea is to help the public to get updates on the status of their applications and services by text, when and where they want them, without having to make a call and then wait on hold or have to spend money on postage writing in.
Being a GaaS is significant, says the government, because that means it’s a software service that, designed once, can be re-used by many parts of Whitehall and for “hundreds” of public services.
GOV.UK Notify doesn’t quite have that many at launch – more like 70. Or perhaps 71, as the slightly odd way the press officers have announced it as a way to get updates on the status of your student loan.
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More precisely, it is said to be lined up for civil servants to issue updates to the public on student loans, lasting power of attorney, passports, voter registration, and the digital marketplace for small and medium sized businesses, while these further 70 service areas “from across government” are now looking to use GOV.UK Notify.
“Whether you are a parent applying for a passport, a student checking your finances, or a business owner seeking to work on government contracts, we want to make it as easy as possible for you,” Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, Ben Gummer commented on the move to beta of the service this week.
“In GOV.UK Notify, we have developed an impressive, cost-saving product that can be used across any government department for lots of different services, making it easier for the public to interact with government and keep track of their applications and requests.”
And in case you’re wondering, the cost of that SMS off the Notify service is estimated at £0.02 per time – a lot, lot less than that £12 bill.