The proportion of people needing legal advice to make out a lasting power of attorney has dropped from 80% to 20% since the introduction of an online system, the government claimed today.

Citing Lasting Power of Attorney as an example of a government service successfully moving online, a paper published by the Cabinet Office said that previously, '80% of users needed help from a solicitor, adding to their financial and emotional burden'. By contrast '80% are able to complete the digital service without needing to engage a solicitor, and the error rate on submitted forms has dropped, avoiding the frustration and cost of repeat submissions.'

Online lasting power of attorney went fully live in May this year. 

The Law Society warned that the digital service is still in its early days. 'For some, the option to go digital will be welcome. However, many people choose to use a solicitor both for the personal service and because they are likely to need other legal services at the same time,' a spokesperson said. 

The Cabinet Office paper, Efficiency and reform in the next parliament sets out the government's plans to cut the cost of public services in the next five years, especially through the use of IT. 

Criminal justice will be a particular focus, the paper suggests. To reduce cost and delay, the government 'will move towards a digital end-to-end criminal justice system, where information is captured once by a police officer responding to a crime and then flows through the system without duplication or reworking,' the paper says.

'Video technology should be the default unless victims and witnesses, suspects, lawyers or police officers are required in the courtroom.'