Senior figures in local government ICT, including shadow digital minister Chi Onwurah, react to today’s news that the Government Digital Service will be given a remit covering local government.
Today’s Budget report said: “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-focussed, digitally-enabled and efficient local services in time to inform future budget allocations.”
Read the full story: GDS remit extended to local government
Nick Roberts, Socitm president:
“Socitm’s research demonstrates that councils have a wealth of experience in understanding and addressing their citizen’s needs for digital public services in their localities.
“We welcome the opportunity to work with GDS and other key stakeholders, such as the LGA and DCLG, in understanding how best to support and enable councils to collaborate with citizens and local communities on the production of digitally-reformed services in priority areas such as health and social care.”
Chi Onwurah, Cabinet Office shadow minister for digital government
“I’m pleased that Francis Maude has been reading our review of digital government.
“Just weeks ago he was saying that the Government Digital Service could not possibly work with councils to help them to improve their services and save money.
“I hope he will now consider the remaining recommendations, especially those on digital inclusion and data where this government has failed so miserably in the last five years.
“The announcement talks of ‘extending digital ambition beyond central government’. Ministers must recognise that many councils already have such ambitions and so it is important that any relationship between GDS and councils is a partnership of equals, focussed on empowering people and improving services, as well as saving money.
“Digital services should not just be about headline-grabbing initiatives but realising the truly transformative potential of technology: this Government has missed a huge opportunity to redesign the most important public services around the needs of people and to improve the lives of millions.”
Peter Fleming, chairman of the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board
“Councils are on the frontline of public services and help residents navigate and access a range of vital public services.
“Any commitment to greater digital collaboration to enable the public sector to join up more effectively around residents will help our communities.
“Councils are best placed to work with residents in shaping and designing digital solutions appropriate to local circumstances, so it is absolutely vital that we all work together and share our expertise and understanding of our customers.
“The LGA has long been supporting local government to deliver digital services and, with a wealth of knowledge and experience, central government needs to work with us on this project.
“Councils understand and work closely with their residents and use digital technologies to find local solutions to different needs, from reporting potholes to looking after the elderly. To do this effectively, central government partners must be willing to share data with councils.
“This is increasingly important as we work to integrate health and social care and support communities to deal with changes to welfare reform.
“We need to work across the public sector to implement and share technology so we can support our residents and businesses more effectively and efficiently.”
Julian David, chief executive of supplier representative body TechUK
“Today’s announcement has put further momentum behind the digitalisation of public services, both at a central and local level.
“This will be vital for meeting the chancellor’s targets for efficiency savings as well as building world-class public services around the needs of the citizen.”
Georgina O’Toole, analyst at ICT analyst firm TechMarketView
“Arguably local government has advanced further in its digital transformation and ‘channel shift’ agenda than Whitehall. Budget cuts have pushed them in that direction.
“But this may herald a more consistent approach with more common standards and sharing in order for even more cuts to be achievable.”