Labour: ‘Councils should join platform’

Local government in England would save £8.6m a year if just 25% of councils migrated their websites to the platform, according to a discussion document from the Labour Party.

The figure was included a paper emerging from the party’s “zero-based” policy review, which could be used as a basis for finding public sector savings if it wins the forthcoming general election.

It concluded that savings would be gained by encouraging non-governmental bodies and local authorities to use existing government platforms to deliver web services.

The document said: “Each public service will be subject to guidance and directives from central government departments as well as demands from the people that they service locally.

“However, within this diversity, some challenges and service needs are common to almost every local authority.

“And there will be similar services that need to be provided, which could often be based on a similar platform.”

Many leaders within the sector have in the past voiced worries about common approaches which would lead to a loss of control over website development at a local level.

However, the Labour review examined the example of New Zealand, which has seen local authorities adapting basic design elements from its version of

It said that councils saved around £25,000 per contract, meaning savings of £8.6m across 430 contract if a quarter of England’s 353 councils moved to the platform.

The review, backed by Labour leader Ed Miliband, said: “We will examine how we can better stimulate and support this joint working and collaboration between and within all levels of government so we can drive efficiencies and bear down on costly duplication or unnecessary bespoke systems.”

The document also recommended a change in focus for the Government Digital Service (GDS).

It said: “The GDS is an experienced and talented group who have helped prove that government can embrace new digital technologies.

“Unfortunately ministers have too often focussed this group on simple headline-grabbing initiatives that only help the few rather than tackling the more complex and valuable challenges that make government work better for everyone.” 

Colin Marrs

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