In a report, Smarter, Better, Faster, Stronger, Policy Exchange claims that the Government is wasting billions of pounds by relying on paper based documentation in public services.

It says that in order to ‘remake the Government for the Digital Age’; it should completely digitise its activities and remove the use of paper.

The report highlights the waste involved in the Government’s paper operations, such as the Crown Prosecution Service printing one million sheets of paper every day, and other agencies printing off online forms and posting them back for signatures, which could be entirely digitised.

Adopting these recommendations would save as much as ‘£70bn by 2020’, according to the report.

A full Government transformation to digital technologies would also close the gap in productivity between the public and private sectors, it adds.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, says the report recognises the ‘remarkable potential’ of the savings available.

“We estimate shifting Government transactions to digital channels can save £1.2bn by 2015….This will deliver better value for hardworking families and better public services designed around users’ needs. In future, all Government services will be fast, convenient, agile and digital by default,” said Maude.

Policy Exchange head of digital Government and author of the report, Chris Yiu, says that ‘Switching to digital for everything the government does would generate billions of pounds worth of savings that could be used to cut the deficit or improve public services’.

However, an IPSOS survey, commissioned by Two Sides, an initiative to promote the responsible production and use of print and paper by companies from the graphic communications supply chain, found that 54% agreed paper records are more sustainable and 68% understand that print media “is based on a renewable resource”.

In addition, with 71% of European paper being recycled, the environmental arguments for paper use remain strong says Two Sides.

Leigh Stringer

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