Technology’s role in policy implementation for growth versus affordability

By: Pooja Nayyar, Principal at Netcompany

Technology has the potential to transform government policymaking in the UK in a much more profound way than it does currently, but this is at odds with government budgets. In late 2022, the Chancellor released the Autumn Statement which states a plan for economic stability, growth and quality public services. The plan is ambitious, and one that inevitably creates scepticism amongst the UK public with regards to achieving it. While the plan can be seen as an opportunity, an area ripe for digital system implementation, it creates a challenge when balancing growth and tightened budgets in the billions over the coming years. 

Budget cuts will lead to less funding for government digital projects, which may adversely impact growth. The UK government requires digital systems that are delivered and implemented effectively. We already know that in the last decade, the government adopted customer centric technologies which are reaping the benefits in reduced operating cost. For example, changing in tax thresholds which calculate tax invoices digitally and update the systems automatically helps to adjust policy changes more quickly. However, is this enough in challenging times?

 

Bringing in more innovative technologies

Ideally, the UK government needs to prioritise their budgets to invest in technology, adopting new innovative technologies such as open source, microservices architecture, software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platforms-as-a-services (PaaS). These solutions will help reduce risk, vendor lock-in and future operating costs. The point here is that the up-front investment will lead to dramatic cost savings down the road, and that cannot be ignored.

With regards to treasury, we can close the tax gap by digitising revenue collection and providing intuitive digital systems that reduce human error, which will result in increasing revenue collection and reducing operating costs. 

Another approach is to address the problem of significant variance in volumes of tax return submissions depending on the time of day, week and year. This can be resolved through real-time management of a hybrid cloud. This will allow solutions to scale down during quiet times (leading to cost savings) and scale up when required. Cloud initiatives are already being used at various government departments such as HMRC and the Ministry of Defence, however real-time management is still yet to be achieved.

Besides accessibility of real-time data, other benefits of technology and digitisation in government include increased transparency, dependency on legacy systems and sharing of data across government departments that are usually siloed. These initiatives will help the treasury and the UK government as a whole make the right affordable policy decisions.

 

If other governments can do it, the UK can too

The goal of the UK government is to balance efficient implementation of budgets, effective management of public funds and responsibility toward digitisation, pursuing public innovation and new digitisation strategies to benefit citizens. 

At Netcompany, we believe this is possible to achieve, even if the task feels mammoth. We have successfully delivered these projects in various governments across Europe and are particularly experienced with delivering affordable services at a lower cost compared to other providers. To learn more, take a look at some of our projects within the European public sector.

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