A guide to the UK’s best government websites
Wading through bureaucracy can be a frustrating experience. But today, it’s easier than ever for British citizens and residents to get information from the government. Most government agencies have specialist websites that offer people a simple way to get the information they need.
Yet even these huge websites can be confusing. So which government websites are the most useful – and how do you find the information you need?
Using the new Gov.uk
Gov.uk was introduced in 2012 and since then has become the UK’s central portal for public sector information. It’s replaced former government websites Directgov and Business Link, as well as many government departments – including the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) – making it a one stop information shop for UK residents and citizens all over the world. Now, a year since its official launch, Gov.uk is the online home for 24 ministerial departments and over 330 agencies and government bodies.
It’s a well-designed and easy-to-use website too. Visit the Gov.uk homepage and you’ll find a clear list of services, including information on driving, citizenship, passports, benefits, education, crime, pensions and housing. There are also tools for businesses and the self-employed, in addition to information for people with disabilities.
It’s also dedicated to making government more accessible to ordinary people, with details about how the government operates and how you can get involved. And at the bottom of the homepage, there’s even a section on the most active topics on the website, so you can see what concerns other people have too. Visit Gov.uk to see how much easier this government website could make your life.
Tax information and help with your health
One government department that isn’t included in Gov.uk is Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). HMRC.gov.uk is a treasure trove of tax information, and it’s not just businesses and self-employed people that can benefit from exploring its many chapters. There’s plenty of information for employees here on income tax, tax credits, child benefit, national insurance and pensions. If you’re moving to the UK for work or you’re leaving the country for a job, HMRC has some essential information for you too. Arming yourself with this knowledge could help put you in better control of your finances.
Although many people don’t think of the National Health Service as being directly related to the government, NHS.uk is one official website that most people in Britain can’t do without. Here, you’ll find a range of information related to health – from how to find GPs, dentists and hospitals near you to checking your symptoms online. NHS.uk is also an excellent source of knowledge on various diseases, from the common cold to breast cancer. So if you need to know more about a particular disease and how to prevent and treat it, NHS.uk offers reliable advice.
Although NHS.uk has valuable information for people across the country, it is primarily for residents of England and Wales. People in Scotland will find more location specific information at Scot.NHS.uk, while Northern Ireland residents should visit Hscni.net.