Strong support for single council web platform

More than half of local government professionals still support the creation of a single technology platform for local council websites.

The result was included in a survey of local authority professionals’ perceptions of how digital technology is transforming local services, commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

While 93.8% of respondents supported a set of common standards to allow data sharing across local services, but 65.3% were in favour of a local Government Digital Service while 59.6% supported a single technology platform.

The report said: “The devil here is in the detail: clearly there is an appetite for some form of nationally shared local technology services and systems, but exactly what form it should take, and who should be in charge of it have yet to be worked out.

“Any national digital service organisation for local government would need to be local government-led to gain councils’ trust, and to what extent common technology platforms or transaction engines could or should be mandated in local government, or left voluntary to use, is a political minefield.”

Socitm, the professional body representing public sector ICT professionals, has consistently set itself against the idea of a single website for local authorities, but has supported the idea of a single technology platform.

Elsewhere in the report, respondents identified average savings of £1.4m made through the use of digital tools and technologies, up £337,000 on last year.

The report said: “If we were to extrapolate the average saving across all councils, to see how much would be saved if just the current average level of digital services were to become universal across local government, we see a potential saving of £495m.”

However, legacy systems and ICT infrastructure were identified as the biggest barriers holding back digital development, with 86% of respondents identifying the issue.

The online survey was completed by 143 public servants across local services.

Local government minister Kris Hopkins said: “I welcome the findings of this report and would urge local authorities to learn from each other, to share experience and to work together to fast track the benefits that digital technologies offer both our citizens and the taxpayer.”

Colin Marrs

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