IT pros contracting as Umbrella Company Employees may find new opportunities in government departments over the next couple of years, following Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude’s pledge to drive forward the coalition’s ‘digital by default’ agenda to make the UK the most digital government in the G8.

Mt Maude pledged that a raft of “exemplar” online services will go live by 2015, including the electoral role, the property register, and student loan applications.

Major cost savings will follow: online transactions are roughly 20 times cheaper than their telephone equivalents, and 30 and 50 times cheaper than postal and face-to-face transactions respectively.

Mr Maude said that the UK had actually been spending more per capita on IT than any other country in the G8, with the exceptions of Sweden and Switzerland; however, despite spending so much, the UK still ranked “fairly low in terms of e-governance”. He added: “You then get huge numbers of people making enquiries on the phone, people having to do it face-to-face or by post, which is not actually the way most people want to do it.”

Mr Maude went on to explain that failed transactions, rather than lack of interest, were the primary cause of the lack of engagement for online services, which is a problem the government is already remedying with better-designed and more functional apps.

The research director of IT services at 451 Research, Katy Ring, said that online services were “the only way forward for western governments” but warned that an integrated IT infrastructure spanning all departments was still “a long way off”.

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