Government can do much more to help businesses online, finds report » SMEInsider

Government can do much more to help businesses online, finds report

British business owners estimate that they lose 33 days a year due to working with ‘outdated’ online services created by the government, as the need for an updated digital tax system grows.


Improved digital services

Over a month is spent getting to grips with old-fashioned government digital services, claims EMC, a multinational technology company.

As part of EMC’s ‘Future of a Digital Government’ study, 614 UK business decision makers were questioned about how they use online services, with a large majority of participants being small business owners.

The technology firm discovered that an update to the government’s online services could save SME owners an estimated five hours each week, time that could be put to good use improving their business.

The report also found:

  • Business owners are demanding digital services from David Cameron’s administration in key areas such as government funding (39 per cent) and health and safety regulations (34 per cent).
  • Enhanced tax services were on top of the digital agenda for SME owners, as it was voted the area which needs the most improvement. An online directory showing all available tax grants / breaks for businesses in one place was asked for by half the survey, as well as a definitive list of the requirements needed to start a business (36 per cent)


‘Demand for a more digitally focused government’

As more and more young people begin to start their own businesses, digitally savvy entrepreneurs are demanding that David Cameron should do more to support business engagement with government online services.

In April, SME Insider found that Small businesses throughout Britain plan to invest heavily in improving their websites, collectively spending £53bn over the next two years.

Over half (53 per cent) of EMC’s survey involved 18-34 year olds, who called for more business information, including getting advice on key topics, including imports and exports, business funding and more, from the Government.

‘‘There is an obvious demand for a more digitally focused Government and whilst some progress has been made with Government Digital Services, there is still more that can be done in application transformation,’’ states James Norman, public sector CIO, EMC UK.

‘‘Businesses need a more efficient way of interacting with Government and improving the accessibility of online services is one of them. Creating a digital foundation made of data and not paper will be critical for the business growth in the future.’’

Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, echoes Norman’s statement, explaining that small businesses are ‘‘rapidly embracing’’ digital avenues and hopes that the government can create more digital solutions to develop SME success, including an online tax returns system.

‘‘Government voucher programmes should replicate the success of Growth Vouchers, connecting small businesses with the advice and support they need via a simple online process.’’

‘‘Looking ahead it will need to be tailored for a time-starved, tech-savvy entrepreneur audience who are calling for smarter services and more personalised updates concerning regulations, tax or advice.’’