Digital Inclusion

Government Unveils Martha Lane Fox as Digital Inclusion Champion

Lord Stephen Carter

(Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting) officially announced the appointment of Martha Lane Fox as the Government's new Digital Inclusion Champion

(June 2009)

Martha Lane Fox

Follow on twitter:

Martha Lane Fox will become UK Digital Champion

to help transform public services


Martha Lane Fox will become the UK’s Digital Champion, the Prime Minister announced today.  She will help establish a new Digital Public Services Unit at the heart of Government in the Cabinet Office.  The unit will drive departments to transfer their services to online channels as quickly as possible and will lead on the work to transform the way public services are delivered, ensuring they are designed around the needs of people who need them most. It will also ensure that non-personal data about public services are available to others to create new innovative ways of helping people get the help they need. 

One of the first tasks of the new Digital Public Services Unit will be to plan the creation of ‘MyGov’, a new open, interactive and personalised model for accessing public services, which will mark the end of the one-size-fits all approach to public services. Through ‘Mygov’ individuals will be able to tailor the public services they need to meet their requirements. For instance they will be able to manage their pensions and tax credits, pay their council tax, or arrange doctors appointments through Mygov making interaction with Government as easy as online shopping.

The Prime Minister said at a speech today that the new unit will ensure that citizens will come to control the services that matter to them:

“I want us to consider today the Britain of 2020 - the Britain we can create at the leading edge of these knowledge industries, but also a Britain which leads the world in open, personal, interactive public services and the new politics.

“I want to make a radical set of proposals which include transfers and shifts in existing spending, including being prepared to cancel current projects, and which - together with more detailed plans set out by the chancellor in the Budget on Wednesday - will help us to save billions of pounds a year in public sector costs in the next few years.

“I want Britain to be the world leader in the digital economy which will create over a quarter of a million skilled jobs by 2020; the world leader in public service delivery where we can give voice and choice to citizens, parents, patients and consumers; and the world leader in the new politics where that voice for feedback and deliberative decisions can transform the way we make local and national decisions.

“The Digital Public Services Unit will be charged with ensuring that departments achieve rapid progress on transferring and transforming services to online channels. It will ensure services are designed around the needs of those who use them most.

“And it will put the four million people who are among the heaviest users of Government services but who have never used the internet at the heart of our strategy rather than letting them literally slip through the digital net.”

The Prime Minister also announced today:

  • New challenging standards of quality and accountability for Government websites, including a requirement that each one allows feedback and engagement from citizens themselves;

  • Plans to release further data sets including some Ordnance Survey data, the location of 350,000 bus stops, the public transport timetables and real-time running information and datasets from the Office for National Statistics;

  • A 21st century ‘Domesday Book’ of all non-personal datasets held by Government departments and arms-length bodies which will be published in November. All departments will be expected to publish these datasets on or account for why they are not being put into the public domain;

  • Provision of £30 million to create a UK Institute of Web Science based in Britain and working with Government and business to realise the social and economic benefits of the web.  The institute will be headed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, and the leading web science expert Professor Nigel Shadbolt; and

  • The newest digital technology will be harnessed to make Whitehall more efficient and enable the public to have a greater say over the development of policy through online consultation.

The new announcements build on commitments made in December’s report Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government. This pledged to open up public access to data. Since then more than 3,000 non-personal data sets, including information about schools and traffic volumes, have been made available for anyone to re-use for free on the newly created site,

Crime maps, a website to find all the potholes in an area and information to compare house prices are just some of the examples of applications that have resulted from this mass release of Government data. One independent developer used the data to create the Asborometer iPhone app, which allows users to monitor levels of antisocial behaviour in their local area. The Asborometer became the most downloaded free iPhone application from the iTunes app store.

Martha Lane Fox is already the UK's Digital Inclusion Champion; this announcement widens her role.

March 2010