Channel fears that public-sector cash could run out after the December 2005 deadlines were laid to rest last week, when the government pledged further investment in local councils' e-government initiatives.
In its latest report, Two Years On - realising the benefits from our investment in e-government, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister set out key areas of progress and identified what is still required for local councils to meet the e-government targets deadline.
Phil Hope, local e-government minister, said in a statement: "Our second report documents the tremendous progress that has been made by councils to date." The average council is now 79 per cent e-enabled, compared with just 59 per cent a year ago.
However, Hope warned that if local e-government is to make a sustainable contribution to the improvement of public services, further investment is needed.
"The next twelve months must see us driving through the benefits of our investment to make a real difference to the lives of ordinary people," he added.
This year and next, local councils in England will each receive a £150,000 capital grant to help them deliver more local e-government services, in a final push to gain the full benefits of e-government.
David Bishop, a representative of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the figures are a step in the right direction. "We recognise that this is a reasonable improvement, but there's still some way to go," he said.
However, Bishop added that if the government plans to force all communications with local councils to be routed through the internet, problems could arise.
"In the next two years businesses will be pushed to communicate with the government over the net. We recognise that the internet is the future, but SMEs need to be taken along with this roll-out," he said.
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