Call for government to fulfill GDS local government promise

Government should fund a new body to reduce digital duplication across local government, the government has been told.

In a submission to the government’s review of the UK digital strategy, vice chair of digital networking group LocalGov Digital Phil Rumens, said that the result would be cheaper digital service.

He added that setting up a new coordination body would not be expensive, requiring only a few people to start joining up work between councils and central government.

He said: “There is currently no network or organisation able to deliver this at scale, or it would already be happening.”

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Other benefits would include better knowledge between councils, including data and service standards, skills sharing and a bigger role for local communities to help influence the creation of digital services.

Rumens also said that the government has not followed through on an announcement in the 2015 Budget that the remit of the Government Digital Service (GDS) would be extended to local government.

He said: “The GDS has achieved some amazing things and the funding announced in the recent Spending Review will allow them to do more of their great work, transforming government departments and services. Local government was not so fortunate.”

He said that examples of GDS working with local government were “few and far between”.

However, allowing councils to use the payment platform GDS is developing for central government would save taxpayers millions of pounds a year.

In addition, sharing data through registers would reduce duplications, between councils and central government.

Rumens said: “GDS works in the open, and some councils already use the resources they have online such as the Government Service Design Manual, however extending GDS’ remit to local public services would provide hands-on expertise in delivering world class digital services locally.

“This could be co-ordinated by the new body, and so GDS didn’t have to visit all 400+ councils regional networks or hubs might be created.”

Colin Marrs

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