Service transformation: A better service for citizens and businesses, a better deal for the taxpayer (Varney Review)

Sir David Varney today published his report to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Service Transformation: a Better Service For Citizens and Businesses, a Better Deal for Taxpayers.

Acknowledging the achievements made in the past decade, Sir David's report identifies major opportunities to strengthen public service delivery to make it more accessible, convenient and efficient to meet changing citizen and business expectations.

The report's recommendations include:

  • developing a change of circumstances service starting with bereavement, birth and change of address by 2010, so that citizens don't have to notify multiple public services;
  • providing citizens and businesses with single information and transactional websites through Directgov and;
  • improving public sector contact centre performance including reducing operating costs by 25 per cent to release £400 million; and
  • developing a cross-government identity management system to enable greater personalisation of services and to reduce duplication across government.

Launching the report, Sir David Varney said:

"The service sector has an increasingly important role in the economy and public service delivery needs to evolve to meet the emerging challenges. There are opportunities to deliver better public services through joining up service provision across the public sector, and by engaging more directly with users in the design and delivery of services.

"Over the next ten years there are opportunities to provide better public services at a lower cost to the taxpayer, if the Government takes these opportunities, then I believe the UK can create a world class public service economy with interactions with citizens and businesses that deliver real value and resolve problems first time."

Notes to editors
Budget 2006 announced that the Chancellor had asked Sir David Varney, former Executive Chairman of HMRC and former Chairman of O2, to advise him on the opportunities for transforming the delivery of public services, in particular by looking at how the channels through which services are delivered can be made more responsive to the needs of citizens and businesses. Sir David's report to the Chancellor is being published today alongside the Pre-Budget Report.

The key proposals were:

  • develop a change of circumstances service starting with bereavement, birth and change of address by 2010, to drive citizen and business focused cross-government working;
  • improve Directgov and so they become the primary information and transactional channels for citizens and businesses, reducing the number of departmental specific websites, providing the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Paymaster General respectively with responsibility for the services;
  • improve public sector contact centre performance by establishing performance targets and best practice benchmarks, reducing operating costs by 25 per cent releasing £400 million;
  • take forward proposals to develop a cross-government identity management system to enable greater personalisation of services and to reduce duplication across government,
  • building on a proof of concept project to share data between HM Revenue and Customs, DWP and 12 local authorities;
  • establish new citizen and business contact roles and functions within departments to drive increased skills and capability to respond to citizen and business needs and to increasingly coordinate service delivery from a whole of government perspective;
  • develop better coordinated and focused face-to-face services, through a cross-government estate strategy, underpinned with departmental plans for increased third sector delivery of these services and more mobile working; and
  • establish service transformation as a top priority outcome for government, underpinned by a detailed delivery plan and quantitative performance indicators which form the basis of a published annual report on service transformation.

Prior to commencing this review in July 2006, Sir David was Chairman of HM Revenue and Customs, and before that he was Chairman of MM02, the leading mobile telecommunications company, since its creation in May 2001. He was previously Chief Executive Officer of BG Group (formerly British Gas) from 1996 to 2000. Before joining BG Group, he held a variety of senior roles in Shell including the position of Managing Director of AB Svenska Shell in Sweden and Director of Shell International with responsibility for Shell's Oil Products business in Europe. He was chairman of Business in the Community from 2002 to 2004.