Scotland’s Digital Minister: ‘We want to reinvent our public services’

Scotland’s digital minister has said that he wants to “reinvent” the country’s public services in a post COVID-19 world, where they are “more personal, accountable and efficient and worthy of public trust”.

Ben Macpherson MSP, who is responsible for the Scottish Government’s digital strategy and participation, outlined his vision this morning as part of DigiLeaders, a UK-wide tech sector event, hosted virtually.

Macpherson, who launched a consultation last week for a refreshed digital strategy for Scotland – through which the Scottish Government and Scotland’s local authorities are working directly – said: “Together, we want to build a digital Scotland in which geography, background or ability aren’t barriers to getting online and benefiting from digital technology.

“We want to create a Scotland in which we reinvent our public services to make them more personal, accountable and efficient, and worthy of public trust. And to build a Scotland where our government and councils are transformed into true digital organisations with digital skills, operating models and workplace cultures that have evolved to meet the digital challenge.”

He added: “So, in the next three months we are talking to stakeholders across the country about the priorities they want us to focus on, the concerns they have and the ways in which we, collectively, can use technology to free up precious resources so that together we can apply more of our time and creativity to making a bigger difference towards our personal and collective wellbeing.”

Macpherson paid tribute to the way Scotland has responded to the coronavirus; he said how digital and the ethical use of data, though, can “help us through even the most difficult of times” and that digital connectivity is now part of critical national infrastructure.

He said: “Technology has enabled us to spin-up new services and scale old ones at an incredible rate. It has enabled us to work from home, it has kept us in touch with our colleagues and contacts and families and friends. And it has sparked an extraordinary degree of innovation and creativity in our business community and amongst entrepreneurs.”

But he said the Scottish Government was looking at how it can do more to support businesses to embrace the economic opportunities of digital technology and to grow and expand, particularly in overseas markets.

Macpherson said the consultation process – which closes on December 23 – is being led jointly by the Scottish Government and Scottish local government in a “very visible demonstration of our shared commitment to working across the public sector to deliver the services that people need”.