Martha Lane Fox, who co-founded lastminute.com, has been appointed as the new UK Digital Champion by Prime Minister David Cameron. As part of the coaltion Government's drive to increase transparency and accountability, the Internet entrepreneur will be tasked with encouraging as many people as possible to go online, and improving the convenience and efficiency of public services by driving online delivery. She will be supported in this endeavour by the Cabinet Office. Lane-Fox will also sit on the Efficiency Board, which is co-chaired by Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude, and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and which oversees the Government's Efficiency and Reform programme.
"There are more than 10 million adults in this country who have never used the internet and it is my mission to get as many of them online as possible" Martha Lane-Fox commented, continuing "at the moment they are missing out on the massive advantages of being online which the rest of us take for granted, including average consumer savings of over £560 a year and the ability to access vital public services, and I want to change that. And whilst helping to bridge the digital divide is hugely important in its own right, there are also compelling economic reasons why we need to get everyone online. For example the Government could save millions of pounds each year simply by doing transactions online rather than on paper or over the phone."
Prime Minister David Cameron says of the appointment: "I am delighted that Martha Lane Fox will be our Digital Champion, encouraging more people to go online and access the information and services they need. Getting online can help people save money, find a job, access services in a way that works for them, and make connections with each other and with their community. It will also help us all to drive down the cost of delivering public services."
Here's the letter, in full, from the Prime Minister which appoints Martha Lane-Fox to the role:
As you know, the Government is committed to increasing transparency and accountability through making information systematically available online. We also want to improve the convenience and efficiency of public services by driving online delivery. Furthermore, we believe that digital engagement can be a significant contributor to our ambition to build a Big Society where people are more engaged with their local neighbourhoods.
To make this happen, we need to encourage more people to go online and hence be able to access public information and services. In addition to the many benefits to people themselves - including making connections with other people, consumer savings, increased employability, and access to public services - this will also help us to drive down the cost of delivering public services.
I would very much like you to take on the role of UK Digital Champion, to advise and challenge Government, the wider public sector and industry on where and how we can make greater, faster progress to get people online and to deliver these benefits.
Within this role, we would like you to focus on three key areas:
Contributing to the Government's work on behavioural change - with a specific remit to build on the Race Online 2012 campaign you have launched to encourage as many people as possible to get online in the lifetime of this Parliament. In this, you will work closely with Nat Wei, the Government's adviser on the Big Society.
Advising Government on how efficiencies can best be realised through the online delivery of public services. This will be achieved through oversight of departmental plans to put key public services online, including their radical redesign where this will enable more efficient online delivery; driving the transformation and redirection of Directgov; and rationalising the various streams of work across government on digital inclusion and participation in order to ensure that our resources make the greatest possible impact.
I have asked the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, to take the lead in driving the transparency agenda across government, and, with the Chief Secretary, Danny Alexander, to lead the Government's Efficiency and Reform programme. He also has responsibility for leading the Government's work on building the Big Society. All of these streams of activity are relevant to your role as UK Digital Champion and I would like you to work closely with him in taking this work forward. In addition, as Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt has a wider responsibility for digital issues such as Universal Broadband, and I would also like you to work closely with him.
I look forward to seeing you and to meeting some of your industry partners and Taskforce members at No 10 in July at a reception to launch Race Online 2012's annual report, 'Manifesto for a Networked Nation'.