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How digital and technology transformation saved £1.7bn last year

We’ve always said that transforming government’s approach to digital and technology would save money, and it has.

The published figures are impressive: last year the Cabinet Office helped government save £1.7 billion through digital and technology transformation.

In the spirit of transparency and openness, I wanted to explain how we did that: by managing government’s digital and IT spending requests, transitioning websites to GOV.UK, and by transforming public services. Let’s break down the numbers a bit.

Saving more each year

Digital and technology transformation has been gathering pace since 2012, according to figures jointly curated by Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and Government Digital Service (GDS). Against a 2009/10 baseline, within government’s savings totals, the amount saved from transformation was:

  • £891 million in 2012/13
  • in 2013/14, this increased to £978 million

This year's figure increased to £1.7 billion, bringing the combined total saved over these three years up to £3.56 billion.

That’s a direct result of work done across government, by departmental teams building digital services and making better use of technology.

Savings from GDS

More than £600 million of this year’s £1.7 billion figure was through the work done by GDS itself. Here’s where it came from:

Digital transformation made this possible

These savings were only possible because digital transformation made them so. Digital has helped us rethink the way we do things, but we’re only at the start of that journey.

It’s good that we’ve started redesigning and rebuilding individual digital services, but transformation goes so much deeper; it means re-thinking the whole organisation and how it works. Our work to date represents the tip of the iceberg, and that iceberg is as deep as government is complicated. Digital thinking is a good thing for all of us, and we can make the most of it through collaboration and putting users first.

This is just the beginning

Departments and agencies across government have made significant advances in implementing digital transformation over the last parliament:

  • over 98% of driving tests are now booked online
  • 85% of self assessment filing is done through online channels
  • 12 million people have registered to vote using a new digital service

These are notable achievements. They have come about through hard work, collaboration, and by a growing digital capability that largely didn’t exist a few years ago. They’re a solid base to build upon in the months and years ahead. Across government, we’ve already saved £3.56 billion over three years, and we’ve barely begun.

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  1. Comment by posted on

    Great to see the government being pro-active in adapting to modern practices and saving the taxpayer money! Keep up the great work guys.

  2. Comment by Henry Yates posted on

    I don't completely believe that that much money might have been saved but the change is definitely present and digitization is the future however that much worth of savings doesn't look real.

  3. Comment by Digital KoolAid posted on

    These claims appear to be completely discredited. The Register reports that :

    "GDS had boasted that its new services and the new portal would create £1.7bn savings on services that cost £6bn to £9bn to run. That’s predicated on being able to lay off civil servants, as users could self-service. The National Audit Office was sceptical – "the evidence for savings is hard to follow”, it told the Cabinet Office in 2013 – and twice asked GDS to tone down its claims."

  4. Comment by Mike posted on

    Thanks for this breakdown, again some further detail would be helpful:

    1) Spend Controls – presumably this is cost avoided through additional governance procedures rather than cashable savings or was the £391m returned to HMT? I'm assuming that the £391m was still spent somewhere else by the departments?

    2) How does a service like Book a Prison Visit contribute to the savings? In automating a back office process like this, presumably the only way to make savings would be FTE reductions in the support staff involved? So again, are these cashable savings (representing money returned to the taxpayer) or “on paper” savings?

  5. Comment by Louise Duffy posted on

    Thanks for your comments Eliot and Chris. The money was saved through DWP by opting to use Verify instead of building their own identity assurance solution.

    Page 6 of this document gives more info:

  6. Comment by Mike Arama posted on

    Making cost savings is great but what gives me a buzz, as Programme Manager, is seeing the way our organisation, even outside of our programme, has responded to agile working as a mindset. The benefits of which will be felt well after our programme is completed.

  7. Comment by Chris Watts posted on

    How did GOV.UK verify save £36.5 million?

  8. Comment by Eliot posted on

    Some detail on how you account / model these savings would be great. Eg who's budget was reduced by £36m due to Verify?