Local governments are not doing enough to encourage their citizens to use the Internet for accessing services, despite more than nine out of ten web users visting local authority sites.

That's according to a new survey from Avocent. The software company found that only 8 percent of respondents to the survey had been asked to access council services online, meaning that councils were being hit in the pocket as their citizens were using more expensive ways to access services.

One of the reasons for the reluctance of website visitors to use the Internet was the low level of confidence that online queries would get a response, however, 85 percent of respondents said they would use online queries if there was some sort of tracking system in place.

This perception had led just under half of local council website visitors to use online services, with refuse collection leading the way.

Avocent said that local taxpayers were not getting the best value from their local authorities.
"Survey results indicate Local Government is failing to take advantage of potential savings for taxpayers offered by online self-service," said Ben Grimes, Avocent Chief Technology Officer. "Citizens are enthusiastically accessing information on local Government websites, but are not logging their enquiries and issues online because of lack of confidence that they will receive the same service online as in person or by telephone."

Given the pressure on public sector budgets, how can councils fail to deliver services in the most cost-effective way?" added Grimes. "Councils can gain the trust of citizens by installing systems that ensure online queries and requests are always serviced efficiently. The costs of upgrading online services will be dwarfed by the savings that will be achieved if more people access services online."