A new digital pledge backed by £7.5m of government funding has been announced to help local authorities transform their online services. The scheme announced in July 2018 by Local Government Minister Rushi Sunak MP, is intended to change the ways local authorities invest in technology, share expertise and to provide members of the public with a quality digital service. A “Local Digital Declaration” has already been signed by over 50 local authorities, government departments and partner organisations which aims to agree a common vision for the future of local services.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will establish a delivery team to support all declaration signatories in realising its ambition. It plans to help local authorities find out about priority projects that can support the local digital community and deliver common routes to procurement of core services.
Sunak MP said “We know that one size doesn’t fit all, but by developing common building blocks local authorities will be able to build services more quickly, flexibly and effectively. Only in this more open and flexible market will we unlock our full potential for innovation”.
Of course, local authorities are under pressure to save money and sharing best practice and innovation can provide better public services that benefit people. “Whether it’s an app to report fly-tipping or slick online services to pay your council tax, many local authorities are at the forefront of digital services” he continued. Up and until now, collaborative efforts across local government has been sporadic.
Local authorities across the country will be able to bid to help develop common solutions to shared challenges.
The five principles that local organisations are signing up to, are:
- We will go even further to redesign our services around the needs of the people using them. This means continuing to prioritise citizen and user needs above professional, organisational and technological silos.
- We will ‘fix our plumbing’ to break our dependence on inflexible and expensive technology that doesn’t join up effectively. This means insisting on modular building blocks for the IT we rely on, and open standards to give a common structure to the data we create.
- We will design safe, secure and useful ways of sharing information to build trust among our partners and citizens, to better support the most vulnerable members of our communities, and to target our resources more effectively.
- We will demonstrate digital leadership, creating the conditions for genuine organisational transformation to happen, and challenging all those we work with to embrace this Local Digital Declaration.
- We will embed an open culture that values, incentivises and expects digital ways of working from every member of our workforce. This means working in the open wherever we can, sharing our plans and experience, working collaboratively with other organisations, and reusing good practice.
A full list of commitments from co-signatories can be found at the Local Digital Declaration website.