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back to article GOV.UK push in action: Er, FEWER Brits filling out govt forms online

While some Brits appear keener than ever to access services via the internet, the proportion of people who completed government processes online at least once every three months dropped five percentage points in 2013 compared with a year earlier. This is according to a new report released by communications watchdog Ofcom, whose …

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Bronze badge

Crap online services the reason?

There are some good government online services - eg DVLA road tax renewal.

There are some pretty pointless government online services - eg passport renewals, where they just print the details you provide onto a paper form and post it to you.

And then there are the non-services, where if your circumstances deviate an iota from the "norm" you can't complete it online.

Perhaps the reduction in use is because people are finding out how few government services can really be completed online, and just aren't bothering with them.

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Re: Crap online services the reason?

Totally agree. Road tax disc renewal = very good. Tax self assessment - do yourself a favor and put your genitals in a blender instead, it's MUCH less painful!

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Re: Crap online services the reason?

As much as I despise HM Crooks & Robbers, the SA site is not that bad, and I was pleasantly surprised to get my doSH back within ten days, ready to spend and help your economy.

Need 32 down votes please Lab Rats.

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Silver badge

Re: Crap online services the reason?

"the SA site is not that bad"

That's true. I'd go further and say that Self Assessment on line is very good. Unfortunately HMRC have been persuaded that their site should use "Government Gateway" ID's, which means that if you lose your user ID (too simple to use the UTR, of course) then you're stuffed. When you've finally gotten a new user ID out of the GG service by snail mail, then you need a new password. Another long slow pain in the arse process, often involving snail mail, and stupid unhelpful error messages.

I wouldn't be surprised if the drop in on line access is solely because of the Government Gateway bollocks. And that's why the tax disc site works so well - they send me a letter with a reference number on, and that's all I need. No stupid, centrally managed user IDs there.

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Just what am I supposed to be doing online?

"proportion of people who completed government processes online at least once every three months"

I don't submit a tax return, claim child benefit, or whatever.

The only government "process" I regularly do online is buying car tax and that only needs doing once a year.

What am I meant to be doing every 3 months? Surely checking the local council website for the opening hours for the tip or whatever hardly counts as a government process.

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Re: Just what am I supposed to be doing online?

"What am I meant to be doing every 3 months?"

I suspect it's mostly businesses and employers that are being forced into using gov.uk this frequently (or more), as VAT returns now have to be done electronically, and so does PAYE.

(don't get me started on the "we did nothing" reporting that now has to be done for PAYE if you don't pay someone - WTF is the point of PAYE RTI if we have to do this as well???)

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Re: Just what am I supposed to be doing online?

And don't get me started on RTI itself - only useful if you are a business, but simply won't work on an enterprise network...

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Convoluted registration

Many of the gov sites need a ID, which first you have to register, then receive a user ID in the post, which you confirm receipt of, then receive a temporary password - through the post. Finally, you can apply to access the service you need.. and then find the website is down for maintenance, or you must send them more details in the post to complete your request.

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Bronze badge

Re: Convoluted registration

They still do that, do they?

I found my gubmit portal card when I moved last and couldn't remember what it was for.

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Re: Convoluted registration

I have to agree, HM Robbers & Crooks make it very convoluted to register, the French system is much easier, they use your fiscal reference, the value of the last tax return and a mot de passe.

The initial return is paper, but subsequently its on line.

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Re: Convoluted registration

Oh my, yes. Whereas the old paper VAT return had just 7 boxes to fill, and a space to squiggle a signature at the bottom (I must admit I was surprised that they never tried to redesign the form, given how beautifully straight-forward it was).

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In my experience

A significant fraction of them are broken, they also seem to have a fetish for weird interactive PDF's that don't play particularly well with either browsers or in acrobat.

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Flame

Have to agree.....

Tax Disc, perfect.

Renewing my garden waste collection, what a joke.

Go to waste collection, read instructions.

Choose "sundries" from small list of services.

Enter ID. Now is that the customer id or the reference ID? Neither are recognised, still no matter can still pay.

Now choose my address from the empty drop down list......sigh

Enter the fields manually.

Postcode can't have spaces...sigh.

Click pay and all seems ok.

Now enter email for receipt of payment (why didn't you ask fo that when entering all the other details).

Hooray.

So it sort of works, but boy is it so badly thought out.

Now don't even get me on trying to find the school term times and teacher "training" days. Yet to manage that.

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Stop

Re: Have to agree.....

>Now don't even get me on trying to find the school term times and teacher "training" days. Yet to manage that.

Google 'school term dates', first link is direct gov. click it.

enter your post code or click on the map.

click the link to your local authority.

Term dates displayed.

Inset days (teacher training days)?

Don't know about other LA's but Surrey's term page says it varies by school and provide a link to the school directory with links to schools websites.

Ok so a centralised list of inset days would be more useful but not being able to google 'school term dates' and click on a link? really!

Not exactly rocket science

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Bronze badge

Re: Have to agree..... School dates

Just for the record....

Local Authorities agree dates with their maintained schools - which they publish online. Schools broadly follow these.

Other schools ( academies, "free" schools ) choose their own.

Only the first day in the September term is a manadated "inset" date. Beyond that schools choose their own. (If they all had the same days there wouldn't be enough trainers to go around).

All maintained and state schools will publish on their own websites the dates of their holidays.

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Re: Have to agree..... School dates

And that only applies in England - roll on Independance so that Westminster can stop even pretending to care about anything north of Watford

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Oh, gov.uk, how I love thee. Let me count the ways:

1. ... erm ...

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ql
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Mushroom

Look, I must get this off my chest

Not directly relevant to this news, but during the week my wife emailed the local council to ask if a small ploytunnel requires planning permission. She was sent a five pages for to fill in that was merely the form to request someone to look into the planning regs. Shifting institutional luncay like that online isn't going to improve the take-up, and I suspect that in many cases guvmint, central and local, regard online services as form-gasm rather than easing the process.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Look, I must get this off my chest

I need to get me a ploytunnel.

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ql
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Pint

Re: Look, I must get this off my chest

Oh grief - look at the typos - sorry - profrending has never been a strong point.

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Mushroom

HM Borders & Immigration gets my goat up.

To apply for residency you have to take the "LiUK" test; to do this you must first set up a user account with B&I, so you can book the test.

When you have passed the test you then need to book your visa application appointment; to do this you HAVE TO SET UP A NEW AND ENTIRELY DIFFERENT USER ACCOUNT ON THE SAME FECKING WEBSITE!!!

I also get annoyed with local government websites that only work properly with IE 6 or older (trying to pay a parking ticket in Shrewsbury a couple of years ago).

Finally, a little sympathy for our country's registrars, who have to enter various information on births, deaths and marriages into a system that is totally SCREWED!!.

My wife, being Chinese, has her family name first, when you come to select this option (after entering a dozen or so pages of information), the system throws a fit, deletes all the info, and sends you back to the beginning!!!

(Trying to get a certificate of non impediment, so we could get married).

Still, at least these departments have figured out how to USE the internet - unlike the Foreign Office!!

While waiting in China for my wife's entry visa interview, we received a call from the Consulate, asking her to "attend as soon as possible".

We jumped on the next train, and a mere 18 hours later we arrived at the UK Consulate and were handed an envelope; inside the envelope was a letter asking her to attend her interview the following week!!!!!!

NUKE!!, cos that is what the UK Guangzhou Consulate officials need shoving up their collective arses!!!

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Facepalm

The numbers filling in forms online are about to fall further

Once the public realise that the current government want to make as much money as possible from any information they hold, the public will stop making it easy for them to gather that information.

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Linux

Of course more oldies are using fondleslabs than previously. Previously a lot of them weren't oldies

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Unhappy

Paying VAT

I can remember a few years ago when I had a company and having registered to use government services, I went on-line to pay my VAT for the first time.

While HMRC's website had lots of help, unfortunately at the time that's all I could find. I clicked on links that suggested that they would lead me to a page to effect payment only to get more help. I went around in ever diminishing circles until finally, just before disappearing up my own fundamental orifice, I emailed them asking for some help in circumnavigating their website.

I also suggested (reasonably politely under the circumstances) that their website should have links to the actual functions from which help could be sought IF NEEDED and only then. Not the other way around as they had it.

Having said that, they were exceedingly prompt in getting back to me with a direct link into the requisite page. Maybe it was because I mentioned that I was desperate to pay them some MONEEEEYYY!

I don't know if they ever changed it but I am REALLY glad that I don't have to go through that any more.

Who designs these websites anyway. I was always of the opinion that you make a function easy to get to and use, and only supply help if explicitly asked for. The HMRC gave screeds of 'useful' advice. Unfortunately, that's all I managed to find despite trying every damn link on every page I came to. It just seems that someone forgot the purpose for which the pages existed

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