DCLG says Local Digital scheme could cut waste service costs by £500m

The Department for Communities and Local Government claims its Local Digital scheme could save councils millions by applying common data standards to waste services.

The Local Digital pilot will explore the creation and use of common data and technical standards in waste. DCLG said this could help save local government £500 million over 14 years.

The report said £126 million of these savings could be realised in the first seven years. Around £357 million of the 14-year savings are directly associated with waste data standards, with an additional £142 million coming from associated ‘channel shift’ savings in waste handling.

The pilot project has managed the development of technical standards and data for five local authorities. It is also building an application programme interface (API) to help systems communicate. It could eventually be rolled out to councils looking to improve customer services and contract implementation and lead to better performance reporting.

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An earlier report had claimed £600 million could be saved over seven years. DCLG says its downgraded savings forecast was the result of a more sophisticated model “which reflects varying degrees of digital maturity among councils, and allows for the differences in savings depending on whether councils insource or outsource”.

“We estimate that individual councils could save between £115,000 and £215,000 annually by implementing data standards (including resulting channel shift savings),” the report said.

It added that data standards are essential for enabling better systems integration, “which in turn leads to more successful and sustainable channel shift”.

Waste was selected for the data project as 350 English councils are responsible for aspects of its collection and management: “Waste generates a lot of customer contact – it’s the third biggest source of calls to unitary authorities…

“Fortunately very few of these contacts are likely to involve sensitive personal data or coordination with other agencies, so it’s a relatively simple and safe area for us to work with. It was also a service area that many of the authorities interested in this project were planning to work on in the next few years.”

A final business case clarifying costs and benefits will be published in March.

Colin Marrs

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