Councils looking to improve public services through innovative uses of digital technology can apply for funding, Local Government Minister Luke Hall has announced.
Grants of up to £350,000 will be invested in projects from the government’s Local Digital Fund.
Projects bidding for the Fund of up to £7.5 million must be shared by councils working together to explore how digital technology can improve public services for residents in innovative ways.
Ideas could range from making people’s lives easier with more efficient, online ways to pay for services or get help, to embracing tech to support vulnerable people or making bin collections, social housing repairs and taxi licensing services more efficient.
Minister for Local Government Luke Hall said: ” Digital technology is transforming our lives. From smart tech at home to apps on our phones, it’s helping us to stay connected and making things easier.
“Councils are on the front line of exploring how we can harness technology to improve services while saving taxpayers’ money. Today we’re opening up the next round of applications for the Local Digital Fund. I would encourage all councils with innovative ideas that focus on residents’ needs to apply.”
Sixteen projects were awarded grants of up to £100,000 last year, with 57 councils working in teams to shape new digital services and explore the potential of modern technology.
Projects included exploring how virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa can improve the lives of people in need of care, improving online tools for reporting social home repairs, and using data analytics and artificial intelligence to produce education plans for children with special needs.
Other areas of research included giving frontline social workers better access to information to make crucial decisions and improving software used by council planning departments.
For the projects, lead councils across the country partner with at least 2 other councils to share knowledge and ideas. This collaborative approach is a key pillar of the government’s Local Digital Declaration, launched last year, to coordinate public bodies seeking digital solutions.
The Fund is also being invested in digital skills and digital leadership training for council staff.