As you may have read in the press or seen on TV in recent months, there have been many web sites springing up which claim to offer government services. While these sites are not illegal, it is hard to see why they are necessary. These “third-party sites” charge for services that people can get for free, or at a lower cost, through GOV.UK websites – the official government sites. The third party sites usually exaggerate the benefits of their additional services, don’t tell you what you can get through GOV.UK, or imply an affiliation with government, and the sites can be very convincing. The services most affected have been:
- Booking Driving Tests (theory and practical)
- Driving licence applications (including the free service for over-70s)
- Passport Applications (and bookings for emergency appointments which are actually provided for free)
- European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) applications which are also provided free by the Government.
The Government has been working with a range of organisations, such as Which and the National Trading Standards Board, to try to combat the problem and has had some success, with increasing numbers of users going straight to the Government sites, but there is still some way to go. I hope readers won’t mind me using my article this month to add to the efforts to publicise the best way to avoid being caught out.
If you need a government service, then the best way to find it on-line is to go to www.gov.uk, where you’ll see the very wide range of ways you can access government services on-line. If you go straight to www.gov.uk, you will always get the real service, directly from the right department and at the lowest possible cost. More and more services are now accessible on line and it is the quickest way to get all sorts of things you may need like vehicle tax discs and advice on visas.
More widely, in my mailbox this month, a number of constituents have contacted me with their concerns about modern slavery and supply chains. I abhor slavery in all its forms. It is an affront to the dignity and humanity of us all. I therefore welcome the Government’s Modern Slavery Bill, which will disrupt and imprison the organised criminal gangs behind much of the modern slave trade. It is the responsibility of us all to help stamp out slavery, and the private sector has to play its part. Firms must ensure that they do not do business with suppliers involved in trafficking, and the Home Office will continue to work with businesses and the Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority to prevent the exploitation of workers.
Other issues featuring in this month’s mailbox include live animal exports, making the school run safer and the human rights situation in the Central African Republic.
As ever please feel free to contact me on any matter at the House of Commons, SW1A 0AA, 020 7219 6350 or email@example.com. Email is the quickest and most reliable way to get in touch, as I keep a very close eye on my emails and can reply very quickly. Surgery details can be found at www.vaizey.com.
Ed Vaizey MP