LGA bids for millions in digital funding

The Local Government Association has called on chancellor George Osborne to provide extra funding for digital transformation in local authorities in the forthcoming spending review.

In its submission to the Treasury in advanced of the announcement, the representative body for councils said that opportunities to save money include the development and reuse of common digital assets.

It said that it had helped shape the Department for Communities and Local Government’s own spending review submission after extensive consultation with local government.

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The LGA submission said: “We have asked the government to invest in this area by providing councils with the financial support or additional capacity to help them take forward digital work and develop the leadership capacity that will embed digital transformation across councils and the wider public sector.”

Feedback it received from councils identified opportunities to drive efficiency, improve the user experience and make more services available online.

The LGA also called for government to support councils by accelerating the roll-out of digital exemplars “such as those developed as part of key national transformation programmes (for example, Universal Credit, Troubled Families, and health and social care integration)”.

The association also called for greater transparency of the commercial terms of public sector contract, to show where efficiency savings can be made.

“We believe Government should facilitate policy that actively encourages (or even enforces) businesses to be more transparent about the contracts they have with public bodies and the prices they charge,” it said.

According to the submission, opportunities to negotiate lower prices for the same services “are running out”.

The government should provide £1m to help the LGA undertake a national analysis of purchasing to identify categories of spend mapped to local government’s procurement classification system, the LGA said.

In addition, it said it would like a further £2m to help extend training through the government’s Commissioning Academy to more council officers and members.

It also said that government should provide resources to ensure all councils can adopt a standard e-invoicing system to ensure bills are always paid on time

The spending review is set to be announced on 25  November.

Colin Marrs

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