back to article Missing GOV.UK web link potentially cost taxpayers £50m as civil servants are forced to shuffle paper forms

A single missing web link on GOV.UK has cost the taxpayer £51m over the past five years because civil servants are being forced to handle paper forms posted to the Home Office. Research by privacy campaign group medConfidential reckons the government has wasted about £10m per year since late 2015 thanks to the omission of a …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm still mystified

    By those who think the solution is 'more government'

    1. John Riddoch

      Re: I'm still mystified

      The solution is a more /competent/ government (and the bureaucracy that surrounds it). No idea if we'll ever get that, though.

      1. FlamingDeath Silver badge

        Re: I'm still mystified

        Not just muppet govs

        Muppet companies too

        Pro tip, if your website becomes a monstrosity that there are dead links everywhere, do us all a favour and shitcan it

        Looking at you Microsoft, HP, any others?

        1. Chloe Cresswell

          Re: I'm still mystified

          I wish people would stop insulting Muppets like this... ;)

          1. Kane Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: I'm still mystified

            "I wish people would stop insulting Muppets like this... ;)"

            Fraggles

            1. Dave559 Silver badge

              Re: I'm still mystified

              But it's the Doozers who do all the hard work in Fraggle Rock, and do they ever get any thanks for it?

              (Obvious analogy is obvious.)

              1. Chloe Cresswell

                Re: I'm still mystified

                the fraggles do have jobs though, Red's iirc was to clean the main pool in the cavern, Mokey's was to get radishes from the gorg's garden...

        2. Pangasinan Philippines

          Any others?

          Yes, My Adobe photoshop Elements 10 help pages give me 404 page not found errors.

        3. Keith Langmead

          Re: I'm still mystified

          Problem with MS is their two annoying habits of :

          1) putting pages relating to the current version of a product at a path that doesn't include the version number, and then changing it when the next version is released so you end up with broken links if the page was found while still the latest version.

          2) Deciding that because they no longer officially support something that the pages for it are no longer required so binning them off... cos as we know text storage is expensive and MS have limited storage capacity.

          I've gotten into the habit of saving useful pages to pdf/onenote rather than just saving the link, just in case, which has saved me when dealing with old systems several times now.

          (oh and it also annoys me how often they post information without bothering to mention which version of the product they're talking about, or even including some kind of published date so you can work it out.)

          1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

            Re: I'm still mystified

            > Problem with MS is their two annoying habits of :

            But at least MS post actual, useful information about their products. Far too many vendors seem to think that a user forum is a replacement for documentation.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: I'm still mystified

              Far too many vendors seem to think that a user forum is a replacement for documentation. way of avoiding any kind of communication.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm still mystified

        Or just accept that mistakes happen when you are forced to use the lowest bidder. This is the price of competition.

        I am willing to bet only a handful of reg readers have experience on this scale, and even fewer have worked in industries where they can expect this level of transparency.

        700,000 users is small, yes millions could have been saved, but big picture the rest of the system will be making savings to average this out.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: just accept that mistakes happen

          What competition ? How many private companies were bidding to not include that link ?

          This has nothing to do with competition and everything to do with the higher-ups being incapable of having a proper view of what it is they are supposed to be doing.

          And 700K users is no small number. Many, many websites would kill to have that level of traffic.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: just accept that mistakes happen

            And that's the point, 700k is small for gov.uk. People changing address was lost in the weeds.

            And yes there is competition, have a look at the digital outcomes and specialists site on gov.uk. You too can bid on any contract if you want - although please don't unless you can actually deliver, every response requires multiple people to read, review and then decide on a score which is done blind of price.

            Once that is done then detailed responses are drawn up by bidders, RFI's exchanged, then (still blind of price) the responses are scored on pre defined criteria per contract.

            Then the commercial officer processes the data, does the due diligence on IPR and terms of the leading contract, then notifies everyone of the result which is always heavily weighted by price.

            The whole time everyone is paranoid of audits.

            And it's not always the big names bidding, quite often they do poorly due to the lack of effort they put in to their scattergun bidding.

            But your world view precludes the sourcing of facts, so I shall get off my horse and get back to being a useless civil servant who doesn't know one end ethernet cable from the other. And obviously you will be stepping up to fix the debacle at some point soon? No.. thought not.

            1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

              Re: just accept that mistakes happen

              And 700K users is no small number. Many, many websites would kill to have that level of traffic.

              And that's the point, 700k is small for gov.uk.

              Since when does the effort required to build a web page scale directly with the number of users? Clearly a large user population generates more tricky infrastructure requirements, and a web application may have to take account of traffic levels on its server. But web pages are much the same whether they're used by 700k users or 700.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: just accept that mistakes happen

                Still not getting it... 700k is a small number in comparison to the rest of the system.

                Some Joe Blogs got tasked with writing a page and screwed up, or wrote the page before the electronic system existed and no one noticed the they should direct traffic there.

                The point is that this isn't likely a result of contracting screw up, and throwing insults at the management is in a lot of cases unfounded and unfair. Also 700k is in the weeds, and in all likelihood is an insignificant page in the responsible owners portfolio.

                Had it been a website serving a few hundred a year then it wouldn't have made a news article - thing is there is no differentiation between those two extremes because as you say "But web pages are much the same whether they're used by 700k users or 700".

              2. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: just accept that mistakes happen

                Think how many departments, each providing how many services to how many types of users under how many pieces of legislation with how many mandatory safeguards because of how many potentially explosive risks. (Perhaps literally where national security or certain kinds of licensing become involved).

      3. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: I'm still mystified

        @John Riddoch

        "The solution is a more /competent/ government"

        That might be the dream. The soviet union was waiting for the 'new man'. Unfortunately we must work with what we have and not the hypothetical utopia. We wont get a competent government, especially the larger it gets.

        The AC is correct, 'More government' can only lead to more incompetence.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm still mystified

          I don't think a government more competent than one containing Boris Johnson, Gavin Williamson, Mat Hancock and Liz Truss is a "hypothetical utopia" we can only dream of.

          A bag full of monkeys would be more competent.

          As everybody is incompetent to at least some degree, more of any human activity would strictly speaking lead to more incompetence. But mysteriously, companies do choose to expand. Perhaps that's because they've discovered that you can get more done with more people, and do bigger and better things. So, the same must be true of other organisations. You seem to have confused the fact that politics seems to attract awful, incompetent people with the idea that government itself, by virtue of some mysterious innate property that it has, must necessarily be bad.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: I'm still mystified

            @AC

            "But mysteriously, companies do choose to expand"

            Very true. There are some lovely buildings from the ages gone by in manufacture and trade. And they also went out of business to be the home of pound shops. The world does as it does and changed, and they couldnt keep up. Such is the natural churn.

            Now with government they dont churn as a lot of the public service dont. Instead the world moves on and whatever is in the realm of the government (and its branches) stays behind. Such as fax machines and the NHS.

            "You seem to have confused the fact that politics seems to attract awful, incompetent people with the idea that government itself, by virtue of some mysterious innate property that it has, must necessarily be bad."

            Some government is needed. But the bigger it gets and the more it tries to do leads to more incompetence. As your very words there clearly explain.

          2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: I'm still mystified

            "I don't think a government more competent than one containing Boris Johnson, Gavin Williamson, Mat Hancock and Liz Truss is a "hypothetical utopia" we can only dream of."

            And what's amazing is they've achieved all this incompetence while leaving MVP Chris Grayling on the backbenches. You'd think any government without Grayling (reminder: he's a man who lost an election rigged in his favour) would be two orders of magnitude more competent than one with him.

          3. Cynical Pie

            Re: I'm still mystified

            No functioning government at all would be no worse than the current Dream Team/Shower of Dog Turds* (delete as appropriate)

          4. Persona Silver badge

            Re: I'm still mystified

            I don't think a government more competent than one containing Boris Johnson, Gavin Williamson, Mat Hancock and Liz Truss is a "hypothetical utopia" we can only dream of.

            Coincidentally a government with Jeremy Corbyn at the helm is the stuff of dreams. Nightmare variety. What we have may not be good be we dodged a bullet.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: I'm still mystified

              This is true. I campaigned against Labour ( as a LibDem).

              But that's history.

              What we have is a bunch that are far to the right of any One Nation Tories, and more pointedly, aren't really Tories either. They're all about snouts in the national trough and show very little interest in actual politics beyond furthering their own ends.

        2. Dave559 Silver badge

          Re: I'm still mystified

          "The AC is correct, 'More government' can only lead to more incompetence."

          I don't think that governments have a monopoly on that particular outcome. I'm sure that any organisation that gets sufficiently large eventually reaches the point where there are too many "degrees of separation" and suchlike and it becomes very hard, if not impossible, to see what's going on across the whole organisation, and you start getting things like parallel fiefdoms because none know the others exist, and things that perhaps ought to be being done at a centralised level are done multiple times by different parts of the organisation. (There are of course arguments both ways, that sometimes local-and-nimble is better and sometimes a well-resourced central service is better, but in either case, the airship must always keep flying, and you can only ever do in-flight repairs, rather than bring it down for a complete rebuild…)

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: I'm still mystified

            @Dave559

            "I don't think that governments have a monopoly on that particular outcome"

            Very true. An AC above made a similar point. The difference is that private business eventually falls when it cannot adapt or sustain itself, but government doesnt have the same restriction. Instead the more a government spreads the more resources it takes and the more incompetence it inflicts.

            "but in either case, the airship must always keep flying, and you can only ever do in-flight repairs, rather than bring it down for a complete rebuild"

            Absolutely. The best we can do is to chop off the excess parts and slim the government occasionally. The excess will grow back but not often will it shrink willingly.

          2. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: I'm still mystified

            It's less ( as far as I can work out) "none know the others exist, " and more that they are only too aware of other overlapping Directorates that they see as bitter rivals. i.e. good old fashioned internal politics and Empire Building.

      4. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

        Re: I'm still mystified

        The solution is a competent government ...

        FTFY

    2. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: I'm still mystified

      The solution is not "more government" is "a more efficient government".

      Less people in the government doing things slow things down and leads to more mistakes.

      But more people who are not qualified for the job just make things worse.

      A more efficient government should hire more people but also make sure said people are both qualified for the job and actually do it.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Knowing today's Home Office I can only land at the conclusion this was entirely deliberate, with Priti and her collective of immigrant-loathing special advisors surely sitting around cackling at the thought of all those foreigners being forced to fill in yet another unnecessary form serving no purpose other than its additional marginal hostility.

    Rule 1 of the modern Home Office: If you can make life more difficult, do so.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      To be fair to Patel, the official "Hostile Environment" term and policy came from Theresa May's tenure as Home Secretary. But with that office goes the unwritten Tory rule that the incumbent must be seen to be tougher/crazier than the one before - lest they''ll be moved on swiftly

      1. goodjudge

        "To be fair to Patel"?

        That's not something you read often. Are we talking about the same Priti "would deport her own parents" Patel? And as for the opinions of the Extremely Rich People Who Are Highly Tax Efficient (at hiding their money in Bermuda, the Caymans and similar) Alliance - well, 'nuff said.

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: "To be fair to Patel"?

          As stated, that hostile policy was what she inherited, but then ramped it up quite a lot more herself. In terms of downright crazy ideas, there was the Trumpain boom across the English Channel or using wave machines to stop migrant boats crossing. I don't mind crazy ideas being brainstormed, but they should not get beyond that and become a news item.

          https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/boris-johnsons-government-looked-at-building-wave-machines-to-stop-migrant-boats-crossing-the-english-channel/ar-BB19BHYH

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Rule 2 of the modern Home Office: If you can make life more difficult, do so."

      FTFY

      Rule 1 of the modern Home Office is resist change and embarass the Home Secretary until they are forced to resign.

  3. strum

    TPA

    Instant mistrust of any issue raised by the 'Tax Payers Alliance', who are very selective about which examples of wastage they highlight. A broken web-link gets their attention - but billions spaffed on Tory cronies go unmentioned.

    1. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

      Re: TPA

      more like the tax dodgers alliance.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: TPA

      Precisely this.

      The whole quote;

      "Taxpayers will be livid at this totally avoidable largesse. With the tax burden at a 50-year high, Brits expect their taxes to be spent on frontline services, not bungling bureaucrats. Ministers and civil servants must be relentless at eradicating wasteful spending like this."

      is full of bullshit.

      "Livid" compared to what we think about millions dying due to poor Covid response, hardly. Compared to our feelings about crap PPE bought from govt's pals. Definitely not.

      "Largesse". No Civil servants will be getting any extra pay for this - even if a few more will be employed, rather than being on the dole. Compared to the "Largesse" paid to all the assorted govt. cronies £10m over 10 years is too small to be considered as even peanuts.

      "bungling bureacrats". Does this idiot imagine that the people who are working on this at a low grade are the same ones who omitted this web link ? Or is this just an attempt to stigmatise hard working, lowly civil servants, as a matter of principle? (And no I'm not a civil servant)

      "relentless at wasting..... like this. . How much would it cost to search out small drops of wastefulnesses in any organisation? A bloody sight more than they could save - whether public or private- I'd warrant. And in the meantime the really big buckets of waste, like HS2, failed PPE, duplicated governmental departments etc etc will be given the nod, because rich people can make money off the back of those.

    3. Howard Sway

      Re: TPA

      If Mr Fone is outraged to discover that the government website links to a document that must be printed out, filled in manually and processed in an office somewhere, he will be delighted to discover this government site that contains lots of them for customs import and export declarations

      After all, the TPA is pro-Brexit and I am sure that they therefore must be happy for taxpayers to shoulder the cost of the 200 million extra declarations each year that will have to be processed as a result.

    4. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: TPA

      Quite.

      I can't exactly see why medConfidential should be making such a fuss about this when its ostensible raison d'etre is to protect the privacy of people's medical records. It's interesting to see them in agreement with the TPA who appear to advocate the AI mining of those records in order to front-up access to medical care with the same kind of deterrence bots that prevent you contacting retailers' customer-hostility departments at the first attempt.

      And I'm not sure I've heard anything from the TPA about those crony-linked PPE supplies, or indeed about the cost of all those Brexit lorry parks. Or, indeed, who they actually represent.

    5. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

      Re: TPA

      Why the left can’t avoid pouring their stupid ideological hatred everywhere.

      It is so annoying.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: TPA

        Looking for the joke icon in Meerkat's comment.

        Unless it wasn't meant as irony.

        But that's hard to believe, since "The left" has no connection to this story at all.

        A few side comments on the Godawful incompetence of the current govt. but you don't have to be on the Left to cringe at their awfulness.

        Ditto a good few pointing at the so called "Tax payers Alliance"'s disingenuous targetting at just certain kinds of governmental expenditure/waste but not other more egregious ones. But again no need to be on the left.

        Unless the Left here is defined as being anyone slightly less vicious than Attilla the Hun.

    6. Pat Att

      Re: TPA

      I came to say a similar thing, but you've saved me the bother. TPA = Not to be trusted.

    7. theModge

      Re: TPA

      The Tax Payers Alliance, famous primarily for not wanting to say who funds them and being based at 55 Tufton Street, along with a number of right wing think tanks.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TPA

      Classic distraction technique. Look at this missing/not missing link, don't mention the billions we've stuffed down our pants

  4. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    "Taxpayers will be livid at this totally avoidable largesse."

    I think Mr Fone (really?) needs to look up the definition of the word "largesse". Or is his complaint that people are able to change their address without being charged by the Home Office?

  5. Robert Grant Silver badge

    Over five years that missing GOV.UK link has cost the British taxpayer £51,004,800. For the sake of one single link was a hole punched in the national coffers.

    This assumes every single paper form could've been done digitally.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Hah!

      This assumes that the link actually goes to an integrated IT system and is not simply printed out behind the scenes and typed in manually. It wouldn't be the first time that a 'digital' front-end was created to meet a ministerial deadline with the back-end left to catch-up before having its funding pulled or diverted. (And then funding is hard to re-apply for as - at some point up the food chain - someone would have to admit to a superior that the work wasn't done.)

      1. yetanotheraoc

        Hah!

        Or maybe it's the reverse. You mail in a form and the civil servant pulls up the link and retypes your information into the online version.

    2. Chris Evans

      "This assumes every single paper form could've been done digitally."

      This assumes every single paper form could've AND WOULD'VE been done digitally.

      No one will ever know how many would have been done. I'd be surprised if it wasn't most. So yes a significant waste.

      I'm battling with Amazon at the moment, as a seller they every few years check your identity (I realise they do have to do it) but they are refusing to accept an HMRC document with my National Insurance number on it. Insisting it must be an HMRC National Insurance bill. This is after escalating it to the Seller Verification Team.

  6. Allonymous Coward

    I’m puzzled

    GOV.UK has a webpage for this titled "report a change of circumstances if you have a visa or BRP". Importantly, the page only links to hard-copy forms for people wanting to update their BRP addresses.

    Except it doesn’t just link to hard-copy forms? In fact there’s a link to the online form right in the page (and seems to have been for a while).

    Harry Fone from TPA has told me exactly why I’m supposed to be livid about this. Which is helpful of him because otherwise I wouldn’t know what to think.

    Perhaps El Reg could clarify what exactly the Government should have done differently?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Saving & Shaving

    I'd like a better explanation of the savings:

    1. Can you really assume all those enquiries would go via the web? There would still have to be a postal paper option unless you're going to force everyone to use the web.

    2. There seems to be an assumption that the web enquiries are cost free - aren't they looked at by civil servants too?

    Otherwise it looks like the old trick of "pick all the biggest numbers and multiply them together" used by campaigners of all hues.

  8. MOH

    This sounds like it should be added the the El Reg list of standard measurements

  9. Keith Langmead

    Empire building

    Call me suspicious, but I wonder if the department heads responsible for the online form are also those responsible for processing the physical one... department heads who are responsible for a large number of staff to process those forms justifying large salaries for management. In which case they may not feel such a pressing urge to fix that glitch before now since it would mean less staff required, department size reduces, less managers required etc. Nah, can't be, I'm sure all civil service management operate purely for the greater good of the nation and not person interest.

  10. Joe 3

    Baffling...

    It's baffling that the Reg would bother asking the Taxpayers' Alliance for an opinion. Surely by now everyone knows that they chose that name to mislead people into believing that they're not just a front for the ultra-wealthy?

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Baffling...

      Amazed you got downvotes.

      Clearly the so-called "Tax Payers Alliance" is not an alliance of the ordinary taxpayers, whom they've never consulted or considered They are, in fact, very obviously, a consortium of tax avoiders.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As the costs to apply for immigrating, not including the NHS surcharge or the costs for the various tests, far exceeds the cost to the tax payer, perhaps they could take It from there.

  12. herman Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Don't just sit there, do something...

    So, a couple of gov officials actually had to do something and El Reg complains about it?

  13. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I used to have to deal with the UK environment agency a few years previously, and their website was full of dead links and pages that would 404. 9/10 times when you would follow a link from Google to a page that lead to the Environment agency you would find the link was no longer working.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's weird...

    I used to work with a former public sector web dev who was extremely hairy and we nicknamed him "missing link".

  15. ovation1357 Bronze badge

    Crappy websites seem to be what Gov.UK excels at :-(

    I use the Tax-Free Childcare site which, although run by HMRC rather than the Home Office, is all part of that 'unified' Gov.UK brand.... It's just awful!

    The normal route in if you start from where it redirects you upon logging out requires you to click 'Sign in to my childcare account' (just a text link halfway down a long page about many services), which links to a page with the same title, but does it contain a login prompt? Alas! No.... It contains a green 'Sign In' button below another page of text.

    Ok, so can I actually log in now? NO! This takes you to "Government Gateway: sign in or set up" with another green button labelled 'Start Now' which finally takes you to a page where you can log in using your lovely and memorable all-numeric government gateway ID (No, not your Self Assessment one! Same system, different ID)....

    If you thought you were going to be clever and bookmark the login page - bad luck. It's a generic intermediate auth service which, if loaded directly, just gives an error page saying you can't do this.

    Anyway: AFTER successfully inputting the correct login details, you still don't get to access the account until you've received and typed in a code by SMS for 2FA and then clicked through another whole-page message.

    So it takes navigating through about 6 pages to get logged in. I did eventually manage to bookmark an intermediate page to cut this down a bit, but it wasn't simple - the first few bookmarks I tried didn't work on second use.

    The system itself is pretty shocking - Clunky, clumsy UI, dreadful search for adding registered providers and it can't handle numerical transactions properly...

    It's the replacement for 'Childcare Vouchers' which were deducted from gross pay and the principle is that for people earning under £100k, the government will give them 'tax free' childcare by giving them 20p for every £1 they pay in (i.e roughly returning the basic-rate of UK tax). You're supposed to use it like an online bank account except you can only pay OFSTED-registered providers..

    There's a maximum benefit of about £500 per quarter from the government yet despite this being a cumulative total of benefit, for the first couple of years the 'available benefit' counter would not only go down as you paid money in, but back up again when you paid money out!! (Doh!).

    You also have to reconfirm your eligibility every 90 days, which is relatively simple except that again, for the first couple of years (and despite a number of phone calles and complaints), it would reject my confirmation every time claiming that they could find no record of my children! (You know: The ones I'd already been paying for on that very same system.)

    But the bug that still exists is this: Every time you make a payment, it immediately returns you to the account summary but the amounts are all complete nonsense. E.g. You've got £1000 in the child's account and you pay the provider £500. The page then will return you to a summary which might say something like 'Total Balance '314.65' , Cleared Funds '-67' - or, without any explanation of what brackets mean: Cleared Funds (37.1) - They don't even uniformly format the numbers to 2 decimal places! I do sometimes wonder to myself whether the reason it doesn't include the currency symbol is simply that the devs didn't know about using £ in their HTML...

    If you refresh the page manually both figures will then update to be £500. I mean, seriously! They had one job! My guess is that this is an asyncronous transaction which gets read before it's actually complete!

    I've been using the system for about 3 years and still have zero confidence in it (there's more issues but I've written enough for now).

    I live in the vain hope that they might fix it but it seems unlikely.

    To end on a more positive note - it's not all bad. I seem to recall that the most recent passport applications I did were fairly well digitised and definitely easier than trying to manually fill in the paper forms. Let's hope that Gov.UK can eventually take notes from its better parts to improve the worse ones.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Crappy websites seem to be what Gov.UK excels at :-(

      A fair point. But using the/any Govt's. website need a lot of secure checking and double checking. It's massively complex ( i.e. big and interconnected) and has to be government level secure with the highest thinkable level of protection.. And it's forever changing as legislation changes the kind of interactions required and the details of those transactions.

      OTOH try using, say, VirginMedia's quite ordinary, quite small by comparison, web site - that one ought to be dead simple to log in and navigate. Is it Hell.

  16. chas49

    The link is NOT missing though?

    The current version of the page does contain a link to the online form (https://visa-address-update.service.gov.uk/). And so does the version archived at Wayback as far back as September 2015.

    Is this a non-story?

    1. Allonymous Coward

      Re: The link is NOT missing though?

      That was my take. I hope Gaz actually looked at the page rather than just dashing off a few lines based upon something said by lobby groups.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: The link is NOT missing though?

      The issue is that the link to change address for those with a BRP goes to a printed form and not the online form. Similarly, if you want to report an extraordinary change in circumstances - such as separating from your partner - you're directed to the printed form.

      Whereas if you have applied for a BRP and haven't had a decision letter yet, you are directed to... an online form.

      This bureaucratic maze is what this article sought to highlight.

      C.

  17. Colin Bull 1
    Holmes

    Ulteria motive

    This might have been deliberate. Perhaps they want all these changes checked by a pair of eyes for security reasons. And it is not only government.

    I have been frustrated recently by private orgs that required phone calls for mundane tasks.

    AA Insurance - sorry because of covid you will have to sit in this phone queue for an hour to change your address - which could be done online in 10 seconds but we would not be able to try to upsell you. Tossers

    Nationwide - I want to pay credit card automatically every month - easy peasy, just waste 20 mins of a help desk ops time to do something quite straightforward and make everyone wait longer for no other reason than we are incompetent.

    I feel better now ...

  18. AdrianMontagu

    Driving Licences

    This also happens with "D" driving licence renewal. Some but maybe not all could be handled by online forms. Lots of forms being sent out, lots of forms being sent back. Lots of man hours. Needs investigating.

  19. Claverhouse Silver badge
    FAIL

    For the Anarchists here...

    Having less government would mean these services aren't provided in the first place.

    And the market couldn't step up ( as in privatisation etc. or mercenaries ), avoiding government, because they would need to be paid; from government coffers, which implicitly is government at second-hand.

    If say, an arms contractor in America gets a contract with the Pentagon, the monies they shall receive still come from government just as much as if the weapons were made in government workshops.

  20. Dom 3

    In house or out house?

    A few years ago I went to a talk given by a developer at .gov.uk. He explained that they were bringing .gov.uk back in house after years of it being outsourced.

    He related a story of one particular web form / whatever which had a section telling people to put their passports in the post. This was no longer a requirement, but to get the page changed was, due to the contract with the outsourcer, *more* expensive than paying someone to post passports back to people who had sent them in. (And yes, they did their best to tell people to ignore that section before they embarked on the form).

  21. sitta_europea Silver badge

    "The Home Office has ignored ..."

    That sounds about right.

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