Peter Botting: Our government has a great website. We shouldn’t be embarrassed to say so.

Peter Botting is a political consultant

It’s cool and hip (and easy and lazy), especially among the English middle class and “elite” to mock and mock the UK and scathingly compare it to the rest of the world.

Although they holiday every year in Tuscany, complacently praising (all) other cultures and limiting their political contribution and engagement in the UK to mockery and sneer, these people seem content to go on living and to do business in this despised country.

To be fair, I agree that Britain is not perfect. I wouldn’t have gotten involved in politics if that was the case. What’s the point of getting involved in politics unless you want to change things?

But we should recognize – even applaud – when our country does something really well.

One of those things is www.gov.uk – the UK government’s website – and I discovered last week that it has gotten even better. We’ve started to take it for granted that we can tax a vehicle on our phones at midnight. We forgot the queues at the post office, the paperwork, the need for cash.

There’s obviously a lot of infrastructure to support this, including digital MOT and insurance records. I don’t care – I’m just glad the government has made my daily life easier and freed up my time.

Everyday life also includes death. I’ve been an executor a few times and it’s a real administrative hassle with paperwork and certificates (properly) needed for everything. No photocopies, faxes or e-mails. The more complex the estate (ownership, vehicles, multiple pensions, government services), the more certificates – and in-person visits – you need. Previously, this meant multiple visits and days off.

But our government has stepped up and made it easier. This means that when you register a death, as I did on Friday, the Vital Statistics office emails the funeral directors with permission to proceed – no more personal delivery of the green book. You also receive a link to Tell Us Once What to do after someone has died: Tell Us Once – GOV.UK and a unique reference number linked to the deceased person.

You then log in – and the service operates 24/7 – and the details of the deceased appear instantly. You then click on all the things that are relevant – including government pensions or salaries, vehicle details, parking permits, tax credits, library cards and disability permits: absolutely everything regarding the deceased. Then a summary is displayed for you to check. You click the submit button.

And it’s done. Any time of the day that suits you. In 15 minutes. Max.

The vast majority of UK citizens will not have a professional executor when they die. The perfect thing about this TellUsOnce feature is that it makes life easier for people when they most need their life to be as easy and simple as possible. When their lives are torn apart and they mourn.

Applause to my former boss at Policy Exchange, Francis Maude, who was a key driver of www.gov.uk, but also to everyone who manages and continually improves our digital service and our interface with our government. These people understand the Efficiency and digitization potential …. but above all, they also understand their mission: to make things easier for the citizens of the United Kingdom.

A friend of mine has been appointed Director of Digital Innovation for California. Some would think the home of Silicon Valley would be streets past “quaint, silly old Britain.”

I mentioned some of the features of www.gov.uk to him when he was first appointed, but he was already well aware of them – and very motivated by them. He said if he was able to produce a service that offered 10% of what www.gov.uk did, he would be delighted.

Credit where it is due. Our officials at www.gov.uk are doing a great job.

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