Councils could save ‘hundreds of millions of pounds’ by creating and using common standards

15 Feb 2016, 7:22 pm

A Local Digital pilot to explore the hypotheses that creating and using common data and technical standards across local authorities has produced the business case for this approach applied to waste services – which suggests that local authorities in England could make savings in the region of £500m over 14 years in waste services alone if they collaborated in this way.

The document, from the Local Digital Local Waste Service Standards Project, presents the cost benefits of developing and working to a data standard around common waste collection services.

It is freely available for local authorities across the country to re-use and is based on a previous alpha version launched in September, with additional feedback from councils and further research by the project team.

The Local Waste Service Standards Project was designed to test the theory that data standards are an important enabler of local government digital transformation and can unlock significant savings. Waste was chosen for the project because around 350 English local authorities are responsible for aspects of waste collection and management. The service also generates the third largest source of calls from the public to unitary authorities and often creates more calls to district councils than any other service.

Designed to be read in conjunction with the publicly-available financial model raw data that underpins it, the business case breaks down the potential savings to councils into categories including: tendering and implementing a new waste contract; creating a joined up end-to-end digital experience; contact & channel shift; and investigating waste contacts.

Based on an average of 68,000 households per council area, it shows that for all 253 English councils:

  • £126 million of the savings could be realised in the first 7 years.
  • £357 million of the 14 year savings are directly associated with waste data standards, with an additional £142 million coming from associated channel shift savings.
  • Individual councils could save between £115,000 and £215,000 annually by implementing data standards, including resulting channel shift savings.
  • Data standards are essential for enabling better systems integration, which in turn leads to more successful and sustainable channel shift.
  • Standards can also enable new partnerships and business models as well as stimulating innovation.

So far, the Local Waste Service Standards Project has overseen the development of re-usable data and technical standards for councils in partnership with five local authorities.

Together, they are also co-developing an Application Programming Interface (API) to help systems ‘talk’ to each other and could eventually be used by any council in the country to improve customer contact handling, setting up contracts and improving performance reporting.

The final business case, which will more fully reflect the costs and benefits to suppliers and partner organisations, will be published in March.

The project team welcomes comments, data and questions which will be incorporated into the final version of the business case. To contribute, email Delivery Manager, Henry Mathes henry.mathes@communities.gsi.gov.uk by 29 February.

A free Beta Showcase and Workshop event in London on 22 February will provide local authorities with the chance to provide feedback on the business case and to learn about how the project could benefit councils and waste supplier partners.

The event will see the Local Digital Programme’s Local Waste Service Standards project team present their research findings and the work completed so far. They will also demonstrate the standard Application Programming Interface (API) for waste services that is under co-development and could eventually be used by any council in the country.

Read more about the event. 

Register for the event.