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Local councils adopt '24/7 culture'

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Local councils in the UK have moved to a "24/7 culture" after making almost all of their services "e-enabled".

The latest figures on the Government's drive towards e-government shows that more than 97 per cent of local services will be e-enabled by the turn of the year.

"Residents can now access services and information at any time - even on Christmas Day! - as councils have now moved to a twenty-four-seven culture," said the UK Government in a statement.

The remaining three per cent of services that are not e-enabled are accounted for by "legal or operational barriers to e-enablement", it said.

Said Jim Fitzpatrick, the minister for local e-government: "Over the last five years Local Government has taken up the challenge to transform the way that citizens are able to access the services. It is very satisfying that e-enablement targets have now been reached.

"The challenge for local government now is to ensure that this valuable work continues and that innovation and focus on the needs of local people continue to be at the heart of local e-government."

Indeed, the Government has already announced that it plans to launch a national campaign to get more people to communicate with local councils online. Having already blown £4bn of taxpayers' money on its "e-Government initiative", ministers now want people to use it.

Of course, there are plenty of people who want to use Government services. Snag is, are the Government's projects up to scratch?

Information obtained by the Liberal Democrats earlier this month revealed that more than a third of calls to UK Government helplines fail to connect.

Some 120m calls to Government departments about pensions, taxes and benefits ended in failure with callers either getting an engaged tone or abandoning the call because they had to wait too long. The worst offenders were the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Revenue and Customs.

A spokesman for the Lib Dems said that the Government's direct line to the public was "failing". ®

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