Scotland is ahead of the UK and most of Europe when it comes to digital public services but needs to do more to compete with Nordic countries, according to a new report.

Researchers used ‘mystery shoppers’ to find out what it was like dealing with public services in Scotland at eight major life events – including starting a business, moving house and studying.

Scotland scored 67% on the key benchmarks – compared to 54% for the UK as a whole and 59% on average for the EU. However, more work is needed on the “building blocks” of digital government to reach the same level as high-performing Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

The Scottish Government commissioned consulting firm Capgemini Invent to produce the report as part of work to deliver a refreshed digital strategy for Scotland.

Public Finance Minister Ben Macpherson said:

“Scotland is working to become a digital leader in an interconnected world, and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made clearer than ever the importance of good digital public services. This report confirms that we’re already ahead of the game when it comes to digital public services and I want to make sure we build on that progress.

“We recognise the researchers’ recommendations for how we can improve further, and we are currently consulting on our draft digital strategy which contains plans to address many of these points. We will continue to work with other European counties to learn from their experiences and share our own.”

Fiona Young, Head of Capgemini Invent in Scotland, said:

“Well designed and executed digital services should enable citizens and businesses to seamlessly interact with public services, which has also been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Scotland’s position, which is above the EU27+ average, is testimony to the progress made in developing its online government services in line with its digital strategy. Moving forward, a continued focus on social, economic and wellbeing outcomes backed by fiscal measures will help accelerate the transformation and realise its vision of a Digital Scotland.”

Jane Morrison-Ross, CEO of digital technologies industry trade body ScotlandIS, said:

“We live in a Scotland where digital underpins our most important public services to deliver a healthier, more environmentally conscious, wealthier and inclusive nation.

“This report recognises our progress but there is more to do and the Scottish Government is already working towards these goals with partners. Together we can take the learnings from the report and continue to create a digital Scotland that is good for the people, the economy, the environment and the government.”