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UK online annual report 2000

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UK online - success for all in the knowledge economy

Information and communication technologies are transforming economies and societies around the world. The UK has the capability to be a global leader in this new knowledge economy, bringing wealth and new opportunity for all of us.

That is why the Government, industry, the voluntary sector, trades unions and consumer groups have come together to deliver UK online: a major initiative to ensure that everyone in the UK who wants it will have access to the Internet, and to make the UK one of the world’s leading knowledge economies.

This - the first in a series of annual UK online reports - sets out our plans for making it happen. Both by acting now, and by laying out a detailed strategy for the future.

UK online: acting now…

People at learning centreEvery day, more and more people and businesses around the country are getting online. The Government is investing £3.8 billion to help, of which £2 billion is new money following the Government’s spending review in July 2000. New services will be added later, but the initial core UK online services are:

  • UK online centres - 600 of these will be set up by March 2001, based wherever best suits the needs of local people. They will provide people with access to new technologies, and help to develop the skills to use them. By the end of 2002, all 4,300 of the UK’s public libraries will be online, funded through the National Lottery New Opportunities Fund. Call Learndirect helpline on 0800 100 900.

  • UK online for business helping people succeed in online business by offering expert, impartial, jargon-free help and support, available face to face, online and by telephone. Call the UK online for business info line on 0845 715 2000.

    Man sitting by computer “If you talk to UK online for business you’ll be able to look at all the implications of starting a website and therefore get it right when you do it. Since we launched our site, sales are up 20% and still rising.”  Drew Patterson, Marketing Director of Skin Culture Ltd.
  • UK online government services. Already you can access many government services online. Later this year, the UK online citizen portal will offer a single online point of entry to government information and services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. New services will be added to the UK online citizen portal as the Government works towards meeting its commitment of delivering all of its services electronically by 2005.

Screenshots of NHS Direct, FCO Travel, ChildcareLink and Inland Revenue Self Assessment

…. and planning for the future

In September 1999 the Prime Minister published a strategy for e-commerce success in the UK: ‘’. Government, industry and consumer groups have worked hard over the last year to implement the 60 commitments in that report,1 and the benefits are being seen in tangible results such as the new services described above. But to succeed, the UK must continually refresh its strategy in the light of change. The UK online annual report therefore:

  • benchmarks the UK’s performance against other major countries (see box 1);
  • sets out an updated strategy for success, with 25 commitments (see box 2) aimed at achieving the UK online strategic goals illustrated below.

Many of the actions set out in this report relate to matters for which the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are responsible for setting targets and developing and implementing initiatives. Further details of how these are being tackled by the devolved administrations are included in rest of this report.

Figure 1: UK online strategic goals

The full detail of the UK online strategy is available at$file/default.htm
. We will publish monthly reports on progress in implementing the strategy at the same address.

Box 1: The UK in the online world

In September 1999, reported that the UK was the leading e-commerce player among the major European countries, but that we lagged behind the United States, Canada, Australia and Scandinavia on key measures of business and consumer e-commerce use. Since then, the UK has seen strong growth, narrowing the gap with the G7 leaders in most areas - and moving into a leading position on some, but not all, measures of Internet access costs.

Significant developments have been:

  • For Individuals
    • Number of households on the Internet up from 13% to 25% in one year.
    • One third of the UK population is now online, more than any other major European country. A 50% increase since September 1999 has brought us closer to the USA, which is still ahead with almost 50% of the population online.
  • For Businesses
    • 90% of UK employees now work in businesses which are connected to the Internet - on a par with the US at 93%.
    • 33% work in UK businesses which engage in online financial transactions with customers or suppliers - a higher proportion than the USA, Sweden, Germany, France, Japan or Canada.
  • Spending online
    • Fourfold increase in online spending (to £2 billion).
    • UK now largest e-commerce market in Europe.
  • Government online
    • 33% of Government services now available online.
  • Cost of Internet access
    • UK cheapest place in the world for off-peak Internet access.
    • UK peak-time rates are now below the OECD average - very intensive Internet users pay less than almost anywhere in the world.
  • IT, electronics and communications (ITEC) sectors
    • 8% of UK GDP, and one third of GDP growth.
    • Growing faster than the ITEC sectors in Germany France and Italy, but behind the USA.

For the full benchmarking analysis, see We will be updating this with the most recent research results on a rolling basis at the e-commerce StatMap at


Box 2: The UK online strategy

Modern markets

UK online: the Government’s commitments

Detailed actions

1. Drive forward competition in Internet access markets

2. Establish a new framework for regulation of the converging markets of telecommunications and broadcasting

3. Identify and remove all remaining regulatory and legal barriers to electronic ways of working in the UK

4. Take action with international partners to develop an effective, light-touch global framework for e-commerce

Confident people

UK online: the Government’s commitments

Detailed actions

5. Implement a package of measures to improve access to the Internet at home, at work and in the community

At home:

At work:

  • Promote benefits to employers of having all employees with Internet access
  • Government departments to address benefits of access for all staff

In the community:

6. Embed information and communication technology (ICT) skills in the education system and throughout lifelong learning

Education system: Lifelong learning:

7. Work with industry to ensure a safe and secure environment for e-commerce and to help people trust the Internet

Protect children: Safeguard online consumers:
  • Work with industry to promote the TrustUK hallmark for e-commerce web sites
  • Draw up ‘Consumer Trust’ standard for use online by government departments

Reduce online fraud:

Combat online criminal activity:

Protect online security:

8. Help increase people’s motivation to access the Internet by driving up the amount and quality of social content

Successful businesses  

UK online: the Government’s commitments

Detailed actions

9. Invest an additional £25m over three years to help small businesses exploit the potential of ICT

10. Support industry in improving competitiveness through e-business technologies and processes

Sponsor and disseminate e-business research and analysis:
  • Publish overview of sectoral impact of e-commerce
  • Facilitate rapid transfer of e-business expertise between businesses and between sectors
Government online  

UK online: the Government’s commitments

Detailed actions

11. Get all government services online

12. Drive forward towards e-procurement and e-tendering targets

13. Implement a cross-government knowledge management system

14. Drive forward citizen participation in democracy as part of the UK online citizen portal

15. Drive forward the use of authentication services both for e-government services and within government itself

World class supply  

UK online: the Government’s commitments

Detailed actions

16. Implement a strategy to make the UK the number one country for the supply of high-level ITEC skills, taking account of the recommendations of ‘Skills for the Information Age’

17. Invest in leading-edge e-science

18. Facilitate ITEC knowledge transfer

19. Implement an action plan for growth for the digital content sector, including through liberalised access to government information

20. Work with industry to develop a UK strategy for m-commerce


UK online: the Government’s commitments

Detailed actions

21. Establish new mechanisms to coordinate access and skills initiatives at national, regional and local level

22. Further develop and implement the UK online campaign

Measuring success  

UK online: the Government’s commitments

Detailed actions

23. Secure international agreement to a common framework for measuring e-commerce

24. Improve e-commerce measurement in the UK

Further work required in the following areas:

25. Implement a programme to evaluate the net economic impact of e-commerce

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