The Local Government Association (LGA) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) are working together to respond to Budget 2015’s request for joint proposals from the sector for extending “Government’s digital ambitions to local public services” in time to inform future budget allocations.*
Both the LGA and DCLG have been working closely with colleagues in Solace, Cipfa, Socitm, the Local CIO Council and other local government sector organisations in a Local Digital Alliance working group.
Desk research to date evidences a successful track record and significant good practice in local government and other local agencies around the opportunities for digital to deliver better services and realise efficiencies. There are also many examples of local government innovation being some way ahead of the wider public sector and the private sector.
The aim however is to make these approaches the norm. In order to deliver a step change across the sector, discussions and workshops held with sector representatives have revealed the need to:
- Establish comparable baseline information on the channels used for key transactions
- Develop a deeper understanding of how digital can be used to support the delivery of complex service interventions
- Identify opportunities for collaboration within the sector and with central government on the provision and procurement of services (with a focus on underpinning platforms)
- Develop capability and leadership across the sector to drive this work in a consistent and sustained way.
Alliance work has therefore now moved to establishing comparable baseline information on the channels used for key transactions via a survey of English council activity. Data collected will also enable identification of opportunities for accelerating digital transformation in councils.
All English Councils have been invited to participate in this important research project. A unique survey link for each authority has been sent to chief executives with a completion deadline of Thursday 9 July. Survey responses will be treated confidentially, with information aggregated and no individual or authority identified publically. **
Commenting on the move, members of the Local Digital Alliance said:
Cathy Francis, Deputy Director, Digital & Corporate Communications, DCLG:
“Local government has a long track record in successfully harnessing digital technologies to drive innovation and deliver better, more efficient services; but this good practice is not yet uniform across the sector. By working together now we can ensure that the next generation of digital services targets those areas that will deliver the greatest benefits to citizens and ensures that every pound spent delivers maximum value.”
Cllr Peter Fleming, Chair of the LGA’s Improvement Board:
“Greater digital collaboration enables the whole of the public sector to join up more effectively around residents in a way that will help our communities. Councils are well placed to work with residents in shaping and designing digital solutions appropriate to local circumstances, so it is vital that they both play a major role in the discussion and delivery of future digital services.”
Rob Whiteman, CEO, CIPFA:
“This new drive for a second generation of digital solutions will help local service providers meet the needs of their communities more effectively, offer greater flexibility and crucially, in this period of fiscal consolidation, reduce cost.”
Graeme McDonald, Director, Solace:
“There are real opportunities for local government to benefit from further innovation in digital technology, but it’s so important we get it right and that the choices made my central government are well informed by the needs of local decision-makers.”
Martin Ferguson, Director of Policy & Research, Socitm:
“Delivering digital services redesign across localities is a key role for Socitm’s 1500 members. We fully support this collaborative initiative by the Local Digital Alliance to extend better, digitally-enabled service outcomes, at reduced costs, to our citizens and businesses.”
Dylan Roberts, Chair of the Local CIO Council and CIO at Leeds City Council:
“The Local Chief Information Officers’ Council provides an important voice for CIOs throughout local public services. We welcome the opportunity to contribute to this collaborative initiative to drive ambitious redesign of place-based digital services to achieve radically better outcomes at lower cost.”
* Budget 2015 announces that the digital ambition will extend beyond central government and arms-length bodies, to consider local services. HM Treasury, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Government Digital Service will collaborate with partners in local government, as the sector develops a set of proposals that will enable more customer-focused, digitally-enabled and efficient local services in time to inform future budget allocations.
** Participation in the survey: Chief executives were each sent a unique survey link for their authority on 25 June. Officers wishing to contribute to completion of the survey should contact their chief executive’s office in the first instance. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.